Cheating, espionage and piracy have long become inalienable attributes of politics, business and pop culture. It seemed like sports was almost the only area that still had a place for noble competition. However, despite all efforts towards the entrenchment of the spirit of fair play in stadiums, demons of greed, pride and cunning make athletes step on a slippery slope of Brutus and Madoff to reach champion heights. At times, brave conquerors of the sports Olympus who enjoyed applause of millions of their fans would turn out to be banal tricksters. The Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper published a rating of the most notorious frauds in the history of sports.
1. Maradona’s prosthetic penis
Doping is the main curse of contemporary sport. But shameful disclosures don’t seem to stop dishonest athletes. They hope they’ll be able to cover their tracks. And no one was as good at it as Argentinean soccer genius Diego Maradona.
The crime scheme: Maradona spent his years of fame playing for Italian Napoli where he started doing cocaine. The rumor has it that Maradona was hooked by a local mafia who made him an addict to easily manipulate the money of the world’s richest soccer player. In order to pass multiple drug tests, Maradona made himself a prosthetic penis. He would fill it with clean donor urine and put it over his real penis. The imitation was made so well that officers of the doping committee didn’t suspect anything for a long time.
The price: Playing for Napoli, Maradona was paid 800 thousand dollars a year, an unheard amount of money in those times.
The retribution: in 1992, Maradona was disqualified for 15 months. When he was caught in the US during the World Championship of 1994 doping control, he was forced to finish his career.
2. Formula-1 Steep Peak
A huge scandal broke out in September of this year. Nelsinho Piquet, Jr., Renault driver, stated that the team’s boss made him stage a crash during the 2008 Singapore Grand-Prix to help his French teammate Fernando Alonso win the race.
The crime scheme: according to the plot of Renault boss Flavio Briatore, Piquet was to imitate a crash after Alonso’s pit stop on the 13-14th laps around lap 17. There were no cranes there so a safety car would be sent on the track. Alonso, who started from the 15th position, had fueled up and become a favorite right away since the pit lane was closed for other racers. Piquet, who didn’t have a contract for the following year, had to agree to the fraud. But when he was shown the door by Briatore, Piquet turned the cheaters in.
The price: at that moment, two-time world champion Fernando Alonso upset with his and Renault’s supporting roles, wanted to leave the team. This would weaken Renault and it would be difficult to receive a champion budget of approximately €350 million from sponsors and partners.
The retribution: Renault team director Flavio Briatore is disqualified for life. The executive director of engineering Pat Simonds is suspended from Formula-1 for five years. Renault team is disqualified until the end of the 2011 season.
3. Omnipotent bookmakers’ mafia
The credibility of the Russian soccer champion, Rubin Kazan, helped Bulgarian bookmakers’ mafia fool the Sophia soccer club Levski and pari-mutuels owners.
The crime scheme: On September 20, a very important derby of two arch rivals CSKA Sofia and Levski was to take place. Before the match, a person who introduced himself as a representative of Rubin Kazan contacted Levski’s management and offered four million euro (insane amount of money by Bulgarian standards) for four Levski’s main players, Darko Tasevski, Jose Ze Soares, Youssef Rabeh and Zhivko Milanov. The players were promised grand salaries. Levski’s bosses were not surprised since the incident with Chelsea and Roman Abramovich showed the world that Russians have a habit of spending their money frivolously. Rubin’s emissary claimed that the issue was urgent and demanded that Levski’s leading players show up for a medical testing in Moscow on September 19. In Moscow it turned out that Kurban Berdiyev’s club had no clue about the deal. The players realized they’ve been fooled and rushed home just to find out that Levski lost CSKA 0:2.
The price: bets for CSKA’s victory in Asian bookmakers’ agencies were abnormally high. Profit of the mafia group could be as high as 2 million dollars.
The retribution: bank data and addresses on the contracts were fake. Rubin’s “emissary” is wanted by the Interpol and Russian special services.
4. Gender confusion
A South African runner Caster Semenya sensationally won gold in the 800 meters at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics. But before the winner had time to enjoy her success, her rivals demanded that an investigation of the new African champion be undertaken. They believed that the winner was a man.
The crime scheme: scientists who tested Semenya found her to be a hermaphrodite who had no womb or ovaries. Hermaphrodites are unable to have children. Semenya doesn’t have male genitalia either, but has internal testicles that make her testosterone levels more than three times higher than those of a normal female. It is very likely that Caster was unaware of the issue. But South African sports authorities knew about it very well. They conducted a special expertise after the 18-year old “woman” ran 800 meter 3(!) seconds faster than the previous record. However, they sent her to the championship anyway. The manly Caster could not help but raise suspicions.
The price: the award for winning the world championship is $60,000. For a poor South African girl from a village on the shores of the Limpopo River it’s an enormous sum of money.
The retribution: Caster will no longer participate in female competitions. But her champion title was not revoked.
5. Ex-champion’s reputation tarnished by gypsum powder
Nearly ten years ago, a Mexican boxer Antonio Margarito was terrifying his competitors in middleweight division.
From 2002 to 2008, he had world championship belts, according to the WBO and the IBF. Banal cheating helped him to achieve these phenomenal results.
The crime scheme: On January 24, 2009, Margarito was to fight a bout with Shane Mosley for the championship title. Before the bout, Mosley’s trainer Nazim Richardson stopped by Margarito’s locker to check his hand wraps. He didn’t find a horse shoe in his gloves. But Nazim was alerted by some powder on Margarito’s wraps. The tests revealed that the powder contained trace elements of sulfur and calcium, components of gypsum. When Margarito sweated, the gypsum would harden and the Mexican’s hooks and uppercuts felt like blows from brass-knuckles.
The price: As a world champion, Margarito received 70 percent of the prize fund. On average, his payments amounted to 1.5 to 4 million dollars per fight.
The retribution: for starters, Mosley sent Margarito in a knockout in the 9th round. Then Antonio and his trainer were disqualified and now cannot fight in bouts on US territory, the Mecca of the world box.
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