When it comes to cheating, athletes are held to a different, stricter standard. But sometimes, the desire to win takes over clear thinking, making people commit rather questionable crimes for a chunk of gold, silver or bronze. Here are five times people got caught lying and cheating in professional sports.
1. Tonya Harding’s Cover-Up
On January 6th, 1994, US figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was attacked in a corridor after a practice session in Detroit. It was discovered that her assailant, Shane Stant, had been contracted to break her right knee so that she could not compete in the US Figure Skating Championship the next day, nor the Winter Games later that year. Stant was hired by Tonya Harding’s (her competitor) ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly. Tonya claimed to not know about the assault before it happened, but admitted to “failing to report things about the assault when I returned from Nationals…” The skater was adamant, initially, that what she did was not a crime. Later that year, Harding pleaded guilty to conspiracy to hinder prosecution. She was placed on probation for three years, was subjected to 500 hours of community service and fined $100,000.
2. Mike Tyson’s Ear Bite
Mike Tyson should have stopped after Evander Holyfield embarrassed him by beating and taking the World Heavyweight Championship title from him. But he wanted a rematch and that was exactly what he got. By the third round, Tyson came out without his mouthpiece but was ordered to put it on. Near the end of the round, he bit down on Holyfield’s right ear and tore off a one-inch piece of cartilage from the top. Mills Lane, the referee, went to disqualify Tyson but was told that Holyfield should be fine to continue the match, after deducting two points, of course. But when the match continued, Tyson bit Holyfield’s left ear; this one just left a mark. Tyson was disqualified and Holyfield was declared the winner.
3. Diego Maradona’s Header
Diego Maradona’s 1986 World Cup quarter final goal in a match between England and Argentina caused lots of head scratching after it appeared that he used his hand to help him score. To the referee, it looked like a header, but his head concealed the fact that he used his left hand to slap the ball into the net. The goal gave Argentina the advantage and they won the game. After the match, Maradona said that he scored the goal “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God.”
4. Marion Jones’ Performance Enhancers
At the 2000 Sydney Games, American sprinter Marion Jones walked away with three gold and two bronze medals. She might’ve gotten away with it if her husband, an Olympic shot putter, didn’t test positive for using steroids. The runner denied doing anything illegal for an entire seven years before admitting to using steroids, just as her husband did. All five of her medals were stripped and her career continued to be plagued by rumors of using performance-enhancing drugs.
5. Spanish Paralympics Team
Cheating at the Paralympic Games is nothing new, especially when it comes to using performance enhancers. The Spanish basketball team of the 2000 games, however, tried a different route. After winning the gold medal, the team was stripped after an undercover journalist, Carlos Ribagorda, who was part of the team, revealed that most of his teammates were not intellectually disabled. Carlos stated that his colleagues never took the required IQ test that should have determined their eligibility on the team. Carlos dropped a bigger bomb by revealing that more Spanish participants in the sports swimming, table tennis and track and field, were also not disabled. All the participants lost their medals.
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