A look back at other infamous cheating scandals in sports
The fallout from baseball’s latest sign-stealing scandal is beginning to take shape. Houston manager AJ Hinch is out of a job, and so is general manager Jeff Luhnow. The question is what will happen with the Boston Red Sox, who are also under investigation for sign stealing.
Before they were fired Monday, Hinch and Luhnow were suspended for one season by Major League Baseball for the team’s use of electronics to steal signs in 2017 and 2018. The Astros won the World Series in 2017. Boston won it in 2018 — and the Red Sox are being investigated for their conduct that season.
With two recent champions involved, this controversy now takes its place alongside some other famous cheating scandals in sports.
There are enough drug scandals in sports to form their own list, both at the international level and in the major American sports. Russia remains embroiled in an ongoing doping controversy. The International Olympic Committee banned Russia from the 2018 Winter Olympics due to evidence of mass cheating four years earlier at the Winter Games in Sochi. More recently, Russia received a four-year ban from international sports events, including this year’s Tokyo Olympics.
The sign-stealing scheme heard ’round the world? The New York Giants won the National League pennant over Brooklyn in dramatic fashion in 1951 — on a famous home run by Bobby Thomson. But The Wall Street Journal later quoted Hall of Fame outfielder Monte Irvin, catcher Sal Yvars and pitcher Al Gettel as admitting the Giants stole signs. The Journal said the Giants would spy from their center field clubhouse with a military field scope and relay signals to the bullpen with a buzzer system. Yvars said he relayed signals to hitters.
The New England Patriots have been the NFL’s dominant franchise over the past two decades, but suspicion has hung over them. New England was fined $250,000 and lost a first-round draft pick in 2007 for violating rules against using video to steal signals. Coach Bill Belichick was also fined $500,000. Later, the team was accused of illegally deflating footballs for the 2015 AFC championship game. Quarterback Tom Brady was suspended four games, and the team was fined $1 million and docked another first-round pick.
In a 2013 race at Richmond, NASCAR’s Clint Bowyer spun on the closing laps, bringing out a caution and setting in motion a series of events that helped teammate Martin Truex Jr. qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. NASCAR penalized Michael Waltrip Racing for manipulating the outcome of the race, and Truex ended up losing his spot in the Chase. Jeff Gordon was also added to the Chase field amid the fallout from NASCAR’s biggest cheating scandal in years. Several other teams were caught in the controversy and it ultimately led to Michael Waltrip Racing going out of business.
Vijay Singh was 22 when he was accused of changing his scorecard in the 1985 Indonesia Open and was disqualified. Singh said it was a misunderstanding, but the head of the Southeast Asia Golf Federation suspended him indefinitely from the Asian Tour. Singh took a club pro job in Borneo, eventually made his way back through a small African tour, the European Tour and the PGA Tour and led a distinguished career that led to the World Golf Hall of Fame.
There’s plenty to choose from when it comes to rule breaking in major college sports, but the most severe penalty over the past few decades probably still belongs to SMU football. Boosters funneled thousands of dollars to football players through a slush fund administered by school officials. The NCAA gave SMU’s program the “death penalty” — shutting it down for the 1987 season. The school did not field a team in 1988 either. This season was the first time SMU was ranked in the Top 25 since those sanctions.
Soccer players are often accused of faking injuries, but this was an extreme example: As part of an audacious attempt to help Chile in World Cup qualifying, goalie Roberto Rojas fell to the ground bleeding after a flare was thrown onto the field in a 1989 match at Brazil. Chile’s players refused to continue playing, but a photographer caught Rojas sneaking a razor from one of his gloves and cutting his own head. Chile missed out on the 1990 World Cup and was banned from the 1994 edition.
Rosie Ruiz finished first in the Boston Marathon in 1980, then was stripped of her title days later. Ruiz did not show up on videotape or in photographs taken along the first 25 miles of the race. Two Harvard students came forward to say they saw her join the race about a mile from the finish.
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