Is Cheating in Sports Becoming More Audacious? 


The latest news emanating from the world of professional sports is alarming to say the least.  The once respected – and occasionally feared – Australian cricket team’s reputation was left in tatters after an unsavoury ball tampering incident was filmed live on TV.  What is arguably more disturbing is the sheer audacity and shamelessness of the players involved in one of the worst examples of cheating in sports.

Aussie Cricketer Tampers with the Ball Live on TV

As we are now all aware, a young talented opening batsman from Australia, Cameron Bancroft was caught on camera scraping a small piece of sandpaper over the ball.  The idea was to scuff up one side of the ball so that it would swing through the air.  A swinging ball is obviously more difficult for the opponents to hit.  Any effort to change the ball using a foreign object is strictly forbidden by the rules of cricket.

As the incident was televised live at the five-day test match in Cape Town, a message was sent out to Bancroft to hide the offending piece of sandpaper.  This he did by depositing it into his crotch in full view of the cameras.  What added fuel to an already flammable situation was the fact that Bancroft not only lied to the umpires when asked what he had in his pocket, he pulled out a dark coloured sunglasses case in an effort to exonerate himself.  A sunglasses case is a far cry from a small piece of yellow sandpaper.

Sleazy Incident of Cheating But Still No Shame 

Apart from what can only be referred to as a sleazy attempt to win and win at all costs, it was the audaciousness of the incident that’s really disappointing.  That and the fact that the three players involved – captain Steve Smith, vice captain David Warner and Bancroft –  didn’t even have the good grace to look ashamed or embarrassed… either on the field or at the press conference conducted after the day’s play.

What is more disturbing is that these three highly paid professional cricketers are meant to be role models – young Australians who have done their country proud.  Instead, they have shamed themselves, their country and the game of cricket.

The Remorseless Doping Ringleader of Professional Cycling

Cheating at sports is not a new phenomenon.  Who can forget – or forgive – Lance Armstrong, a man who won seven Tour De France titles only to be unceremoniously stripped of them all once it was proven that he’d used performance enhancing drugs throughout his cycling career.

He too was audacious in the way he celebrated his prowess and made millions of dollars over the course of his ‘illustrious’ career.  The self-proclaimed cycling superstar was in fact identified as the ring leader of what is now referred to as “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”  What an awful legacy to leave your family, your country and your chosen sporting code!

From Fastest Man On Earth to Fallen Hero

Ben Johnson is another fallen hero who had to win at all costs.  The Canadian sprinter set the record books alight at the Seoul Olympics when he beat his own world record by running 100 metres in just 9.79 seconds.  He was later forced to hand back the Olympic gold medal after he tested positive for the anabolic steroid, stanozolot.

The fastest man in history will forever have the tagline of cheat firmly inscribed next to his name!  A mitigating factor is that it was Johnson’s coach who was largely responsible for administering the drug.  In this case it appears as if it wasn’t so much audacity but too much trust that scuppered Johnson’s once dazzling athletics career.

Boris the Cheat and His Modified Sword

Ukrainian pentathlete, Boris Onischenko took cheating to all new heights.  At the 1976 Montreal Olympics the burly sportsman illegally modified his fencing épée by hiding a switch in the handle.  This modification allowed him to register ‘hits’ against his opponents without even making contact with them with the tip of the sword.

After several complaints his weapon was changed and he was eventually thrown out of the competition. The once revered champion of the Soviet Union was banned from all sports for life.  Was he audacious or simply stupid?  Probably a little bit of both.

The Role of Technology in Cheating

Is cheating in sports becoming more audacious?  We’ll leave it for you to decide.  What is without a doubt is that technology has made it easier and more difficult to cheat.  There are stories doing the rounds of really sophisticated gizmos and gadgets that can be used to change the course of competition.

There are also more refined and high tech devices capable of recording absolutely everything that happens on and off the pitch, field, court or arena.  At the end of the day, it’s the human elements – honesty, integrity and ethical behaviour – that should have the final say.

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