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7 Cheaters Who Basically Got Away with It

by: Howard Cosmell On  Thursday, December 9, 2010

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This is a tough topic to address. The most egregious cheaters make for the most entertaining stories. However, egregious cheaters generally don’t fly under the radar for very long. People taking taxis during marathons and biting ears in boxing matches aren’t exactly suave. However, there have been a few people and teams that are known to have cheated, but due to lack of evidence or simply the passage of time, they never got their comeuppance. Below are 7 examples of doing the crime but not the time.

7. Barry Bonds
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Only time will tell if he really “gets away with it.” He’s got the home run record(s), but he’s far from in the clear, as his cheating goes. Granted, there was no PED legislation on the MLB books when Bonds (allegedly) did what he did, but federal law prohibits it, so he’ll have that ghost over his shoulder for a while. The trial is slated to begin in March, so the fact that the US of A takes its sweet-ass time should be of little consolation. His swollen head may not be conclusive proof of his involvement in PED’s, but stay tuned, because it’s unlikely that the media will gloss over his (alleged) transgressions. It’s unlikely that the steadfast institution of baseball will revoke his records, but it’s equally unlikely that he wouldn’t trade all the records he’s garnered for freedom from impending jail sentence. Time will tell.

6. Ali – Liston
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In the first fight between Muhammed Ali and Sonny Liston, it became evident early in the bout that it was Ali’s fight to lose. Ali was working Liston like a rented mule during the first three rounds. However, in the fourth round, Ali’s attack uncharacteristically ceased and he kept his distance. Upon returning to his corner, he complained that his eyes were irritated.

It is theorized that in this (and, suspiciously, two other Liston fights) that Liston or someone in his corner put Monsel’s Solution on his gloves. That’s the same stuff that is placed on wounds during matches to stop bleeding. Apparently, when it gets in the eyes, it’s pretty unpleasant stuff.

However, after a couple of rounds, Ali’s eyes cleared up and he resumed control of the match. Liston failed to answer the bell to start of the 7th round and Ali won by TKO. Though Liston’s unsavory behavior didn’t win him the match, he also never got penalized for it, which in my book counts as “getting away with it.”

5. Lester Hayes Covered In Stickum
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Raiders cornerback Lester Hayes didn’t break a rule with his shenanigans, but he caused the NFL to create one to get him to stop, which is the same thing, semantics aside. The only mitigating factor in Hayes’ rule breach is that it’s pretty hilarious in hindsight.

So what did Hayes do? He practically bathed himself in Stickum, a brown, gooey substance that was really, really sticky. He would cover his jersey, hands, and forearms with the stuff. Contrary to popular belief, the Stickum wasn’t even used to aid in catching the ball. Rather, Hayes used it to get receivers hands to stick to HIM on contact to disrupt their routes and catching motion.

In case you think that it didn’t produce an unfair advantage, Hayes himself admitted he was the player he was largely because of the substance. Hayes claimed he became a “mere mortal” after the league outlawed the substance. He then solidified his point with this little gem – “…if I had been born in 1985 instead of 1955, everything would’ve been different. I would’ve been one of those defensive backs you see chasing receivers every Sunday on ‘SportsCenter.’ I have no question about that.”

4. Ty Cobb’s Sharpened Spikes
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Ty Cobb was a real bastard. I feel that with the many stories that documented his behavior, this is more an objective statement than an opinion. Of course, being a jerk isn’t against the rules. It’s just….being a jerk.

However, Cobb crossed into cheat when he started sharpening his spikes in full view of the opposing infield to intimidate them. His logic was that if they knew he had sharpened spikes, they would be less inclined to confront him on slides, giving him a palpable advantage as a baserunner. While most of his behavior was simply misanthropic, sharpening your spikes in order to intimidate the other team is cheating, pure and simple. Of course, MLB had the same level of authority as Deadwood during this period, so Cobb carried on his ways throughout his career with little repercussion.

3. Soviet Chess Players 1940-1964
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Think chess isn’t a sport? Yeah, I don’t either, but don’t tell that to the cartel of Soviet chess masters that would roll over for each other in the early rounds of the World Chess Championships (not coincidentally held in Russia). While transparency in Cold War Russia wasn’t exactly lucid, a duo of economics professors at Washington University recently saw that Russia’s dominance during this period wasn’t just staggering, it was downright suspicious. While most of the “proof” lies in statistical analysis that I’m not capable of understanding, let alone conveying, experts in the field say that the evidence is damning indeed.

So how did the Soviets cheat? Well, they didn’t try their best against each other. The Soviets realized that a quick and dirty tie between Soviet players would not only allow them to advance to later rounds, but do so without the mental taxation and exhaustion that honest players endured on their way to the later rounds. So don’t try to tell the Soviets that chess wasn’t a sport, because they sure worked hard to avoid the duress that every other player avoided.

2. Soviet Basketball Team
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The story of the 1972 Gold Medal basketball is well-known, but warrants revisiting. During the height of the Cold War, the USA and USSR met in the gold medal match with national pride and possibly global hegemony hanging in the balance of the game. During the hard fought match, the USA sank two free throws to find themselves up 50-49 with the most controversial 3 seconds in the history of sports remaining on the clock.

Following the second made free throw, the clock was live for throw-in, as were the rules at the time. The Soviet coach stormed out of his bench area and insisted that a timeout was called, though the refs never noticed one. Meanwhile, the players had inbounded the ball and dribbled halfway up the court until the refs stopped play to sort things out. After much delay that acted as a de facto timeout for Russia, the refs’ sage decision ultimately was to declare a do-over and give the USSR the ball under their hoop with the full 3 seconds.

On the second inbound attempt, the errors appeared to be less intentional, but no less troubling. The clock showed 50 seconds (!) remaining and while the other refs were still discussing the previous play, a referee handed a Soviet player the ball, which was immediately put into play. However, the Soviet player launched up a hail mary, which bounced off the backboard unceremoniously. However, the play was suspect from the start, as the horn sounded after only one second. The play was ruled dead a second time.

The third time was the charm for Russia. During the throw in, the a USA player guarding the ball was told to step back. The player complied even though there was no rule requiring him to do so. This allowed the USSR to have a clear pass path down the court, where the ball was thrown to a USSR player who made a short uncontested layup.

The course of events can be chalked up to language barriers and general incompetence. However, the formal US appeal was voted down 3-2, with the three judges denying the appeal hailing from Hungary, Cuba, and Poland, all communist states. There has been no concrete evidence of a conspiracy, but the fact that after all the turmoil, the USSR was simply granted the victory indicates that more than the best interests of the game factored into this political decision. So while the players may not have been complicit in the later events, it’s not unreasonable to believe that communist loyalty kept anyone from revisiting the odd course of events that day.

1. Mike Scott
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The Astros ace had a career year in 1986, and it’s largely due to his fondness for a manicuring device. It’s not often you see pitchers having career renaissances seven years into their tenure, but such was the case for Scott in ’86. He threw a no-hitter, won the Cy Young Award, and led the Astros to a division title. It turns out that he was getting great movement on his splitter that he had “worked on in the offseason” by keeping an emery board in the back pocket of his uniform. (Note to all sports commissioners: Stop putting pockets in uniforms. They are just being used by cheats and druggies.)

In case the circumstantial evidence isn’t incrimination enough, this quote by Scott himself may shed some light on the mystery.

“Did I scuff? Yeah. So What?”

Mystery solved.




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