As the accusations pile up against cyclist Lance Armstrong for using
performance-enhancing drugs, sports fans are left wondering if there
are any modern athletes who have achieved success without banned
Record-breaking baseball legends such as Barry Bonds and Alex
Rodriquez have admitted to using steroids in the past. There have even
been accusations of drug use against Tiger Woods and others in the
game of golf, of all things.
Use of performance-enhancing drugs is cheating, pure and simple. I
believe there are degrees of cheating, though. Use of drugs by
athletes is often to gain an edge in competition. Worse are those
athletes whose lack of regard for fair play is so unconscionable that
their acts transcend the use of drugs by far.
Here are the worst of the worst cheats in history.
Rosie Ruiz 1980 Boston Marathon. Ruiz shocked the running world as a
complete unknown, appearing to win the womens race in record time.
After she was crowned, complete with sweat dripping down her shirt, it
was discovered no other racer recalled seeing her during most of the
race. When officials realized Ruiz slipped into the 26.2-mile contest
near the finish, she was disqualified shortly afterward. Yet, as a
result of the race, Rosie Ruiz won a lifetime of infamy.
Spanish basketball team 2000 Paralympics. After Spain won the gold
medal for the intellectual disabilities category, an undercover
reporter discovered that the Spanish team hadnt been tested for
disabilities. It turned out 10 of the 12 members of the Spanish
basketball team were perfectly normal. In addition, the Spanish swim,
track and field, and table tennis teams also had players with no
mental impairments. Cheating in the Special Olympics? It may be
impossible to stoop lower.
Tonya Harding 1994 Olympics. Having your husband injure the knee of
your main rival for a spot on the team just might be against the
rules. Enough said.
Hippolyte Acouturier - 1904 Tour de France. If you think the current
Tour de France is riddled with cheating, the early years would make
your hair stand on end. In the second year of the Tour, Hippolyte
Acouturier decided it would help his chances if he tied a cord to the
bumper of a car and held the other end in his teeth. Having his bike
towed in that fashion much of the time, Acouturier won four of the six
stages that year. He still finished second to another racer who
apparently cheated better (worst?). In the end, the top four finishers
of the Tour were all disqualified in a race littered with broken glass
and nails intentionally spread on the roads. Other sinister tactics
included itching powder poured in some racers shorts and water
bottles spiked with who-knows-what. All the while, gunfire had to be
used to hold back angry mobs of spectators.
Press sisters track and field in the 1960s. Tamara and Irina Press
of Russia (USSR) dominated womens track and field for almost 10
years. Between them they won five Olympic medals and set 26 world
records. The only problem was the sisters looked like men, talked
like men, and acted like men. When the Olympic committee instituted
gender testing for female athletes in 1966, the Press sisters both
abruptly retired. Derided as imposters by most of the sporting world,
Tamara and Irina have lived out their lives as heroes in Russia.