The Rundown

Sport’s most cunning 'rule benders'

The Rundown

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Lance Armstrong's scandal isn't the only sports cheating story hitting the headlines at the moment.

Over in the USA, the NFL's San Diego Chargers have been accused of covering their hands in a glue-like substance to help them catch the ball.

The idea of covering receivers' hands with a sticky coating first popped up in the late 1970s with the invention of a product called Stickum, which is a powder (or aerosol) that gives you massively increased grip.

It has been banned in American football since 1981, but the Chargers have reportedly been accused of trying it again.

The Chargers' coach Norv Turner has vehemently denied everything, but whatever the truth we couldn't help thinking that it was an ingenious way to try and get an edge.

So with that in mind, we decided to look back at sport's most cunning cheats. Some were caught. Some were not. All have inspired not just anger and outrage, but also just a little admiration for their lateral thinking.

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Marathon - Rosie Ruiz

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Rosie Ruiz

Rosie Ruiz

Cuban-American Ruiz infamously popped up as a surprise winner of the 1980 Boston Marathon.

The only problem with her achievement? She had not even run the race.

Aged 27, Ruiz 'qualified' for Boston after being timed as coming 11th in the free-for-all New York Marathon with a time under three hours. It later transpired that she had not even run the New York race, having been spotted on the subway during the run, yet somehow wangling a finish time after reporting to a medical station near the finish.

But in Boston she pushed her luck, misjudging her fraud as she hopped over the ropes near the end of the race to win in a world-class time of two hours, 31 minutes and 56 seconds. She even pretended to collapse theatrically as she crossed the line. Nice touch.

But alarm bells immediately rang, with none of the genuine competitors remembering seeing her, organisers puzzled at how they missed her at their checkpoints, and a pair of Harvard students reporting that they actually saw her pop out of the crowd half a mile from the finish.

None of this bothered Rosie: she cheerfully gave an interview to TV sports reporters (pictured) after the finish, talking about her 'achievement'.

Her relatively unathletic build did not go unnoticed either and, after investigation, she was stripped of her gold medal and disqualified from New York too.

Her story led marathon organisers to tighten up the way athletes are monitored - they since became electronically monitored and filmed throughout major races - but she failed to learn from it, apparently involved in a series scams as she returned to a career in sales.

She was arrested on at least two occasions, once for allegedly embezzling $60,000 from a real estate company and another time for alleged involvement in a drug deal. Last heard of working as an account exec in Florida, she still maintains she ran both races.

Formula 1 - Michael Schumacher

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Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher

He might be the greatest Formula One driver of all time, but he didn't get to where he is without learning how to trample over the hopes of others.

Turning up at the season-ending Australian Grand Prix in 1994, Schumacher led Britain's Damon Hill by a single point - but with Hill having won four of the previous five races, he was the man with momentum.

It was the German who got off to the better start, however, taking pole position and leading the race until the 36th lap. But after hitting a wall on the Adelaide street circuit it seemed likely that he'd damaged his car and continued to drive at a much reduced pace.

That left the way clear for second-placed Damon Hill to overtake and win the title. But as the British driver overtook on the inside, the German turned in sharply and the two cars collided. The damage was sufficient to put both drivers out of the race.

Despite the apparently blatant cynicism of the manoeuvre, Schumacher denied having caused the crash on purpose - leaving race stewards little choice but to give the German the benefit of the doubt, and in doing so hand him his first world championship.

Repentant? Not a bit. Schumacher denied everything with the stony-eyed resilience of a champion poker player - though some feel that he removed all doubt of his guilt when attempting an identical trick in the final race of the 1997 season.

Then, at the European Grand Prix at Jerez, Schumacher again held a narrow lead going into the final race of the season, this time with Canadian Jacques Villeneuve in second spot.

Schumacher led until lap 48, but Villeneuve had superior pace and when the Canadian overtook, the German simply drove into his opponent's car.

This time, however, Schumacher's car was the only casualty: Villeneuve was able to continue, limping home in fourth place to win the title. A subsequent tribunal in any case disqualified the German from the championship for his transparent attempt to take a superior car out of the running.

Athletics - Stanislawa Walasiewicz

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Stella Walsh

Stella Walsh

Also known as Stella Walsh, the Polish-American athlete was a sprint specialist and double Olympic medal winner, taking women's 100m gold in 1932 and silver in 1936, competing for Poland.

She had a long and illustrious career, interrupted by World War II, and throughout her life there was no doubt about her ability - or gender, which is where the story really begins.

'Stella' was tragically killed in a botched armed robbery in Cleveland, Ohio - she was a bystander, gunned down at the age of 69. The autopsy revealed a scandal - she possessed male genitalia, with some evidence of female characteristics, and a combination of XX and XY chromosomes, a condition that would now define her as 'intersex'.

No action has been taken to erase records - modern gender testing involves complex psychological and physiological analysis, not merely a check of the crown jewels - but it was a benchmark for cases since, including South African star Caster Semenya who continues to compete legally as a woman.

Greyhound racing - The dog that cut corners

We've been unable to trace the clever dog who pulled off this trick - but for sheer chutzpah we hope that he was rewarded with a particularly juicy bone and that he went on to enjoy a glorious career.


Boris Onischchenko cheats in the fencing at the 1976 Olympics

Boris Onishchenko thought he had put himself on course for gold in the Modern Pentathlon with a seemingly brilliant performance in the fencing section.

Instead, he only managed to get Russia's entire team disqualified when he rigged his weapon to register a hit when one had not been made.

Suspicious opponents complained - among them the British competitors - and an investigation showed that he had cheated, earning Boris the unfortunate nickname of 'Disonischenko' for ever more.

Dean Richards and rugby's 'Bloodgate' affair

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Tom Williams

When Harlequins rugby star Tom Williams came off with blood pouring from his mouth during a Heineken Cup quarter-final, the club appeared to have had a lucky break as they were able to bring previously-substituted Nick Evans back on to the pitch.

Yet Williams's strange little wink to the bench as he trotted off was caught on camera and an investigation ultimately revealed that Quins coach (and former England star) Dean Richards had told the player to fake the injury using a joke shop blood capsule. An extraordinary web of deceit was eventually uncovered, implicating the club doctor for making unnecessary stitches to cover up the cheating, and suggesting that Harlequins threatened players with being forced out of the club if they refused to take part in the subterfuge.

Richards eventually admitted orchestrating the systematic cheating. He resigned from his job at Harlequins and served a three-year ban from international and domestic rugby.

Cycling - Henri Cornet the 1904 Tour de France

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Henri Cornet

The 1904 Tour was only the second ever run, but it saw an incredible amount of skullduggery, so much so that the first four finishers were disqualified.

Original winner Maurice Garin was found guilty of accepting food from a race official illegally (he was also accused of sabotaging his competitors, a charge more understandabale when you hear that he was attacked several times during the race by fans and other riders' accomplices); second and third-placed Lucien Pothier and Cesar Garin were banned for apparently having used cars or trains to help them complete stages; and the magnificently-named Hippolyte Aucouturier was disqualified for attaching a wire from his bike to a car which pulled him along during several stages.

That left 19-year-old Henri Cornet as the winner. Cornet - who had completed one stage with two flat tyres after saboteurs threw tacks under his wheels - did admit to getting a lift in a car at one stage, but somehow sweet-talked his way past officials and was awarded the title. He remains the youngest winner in the history of the race.

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