Sports cheating is worse now than ever, but we needn’t give short shrift to those who paved the way for today’s cheating superstars.
NERO In 67 AD, Roman emperor/fiddler bribed officials, won Olympic chariot race despite falling out and not finishing.
ROSIE RUIZ Won 1980 women’s Boston Marathon by apparently entering race at Kenmore Square, one mile from finish. Explained her lack of post-race exhaustion by saying, “I got up with a lot of energy this morning.” Stripped of title, still maintains she won fair and square.
GAYLORD PERRY Master spitball practitioner of Major League Baseball won 300 games and two Cy Youngs by, in his words, “try[ing] everything on the old apple but salt and pepper and chocolate-sauce topping.” Reportedly rebuffed by Vaseline after offering to pitch the product.
BEN JOHNSON One-time “World’s Fastest Human” got that way by using steroids. In 2006, eight years after his Olympic gold for the 100 meters was rescinded, starred in TV ad for the energy drink Cheetah Power Surge, saying: “I Cheetah all the time!”
EAST GERMANY Used rampant, state-sponsored steroid use to dominate late–Cold War Olympiads and create countless broad-shouldered women.
TONYA HARDING American figure skater conspired to have rival Nancy Kerrigan’s knee whacked in 1994; the event is later memorialized in the Tufts-produced opera Tonya and Nancy. Subsequently released pornographic wedding video, which never took off.
UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA BASKETBALL Massive academic-fraud scandal — including ghost-written papers on female menstrual cycle — led NCAA to expunge 1997 Final Four appearance from record books. Once-proud program received additional sanctions, still sucks.
SPANISH PARALYMPIANS In 2000, Spain won intellectually disabled basketball tournament at Paralympics by stocking team with intellectually able players. Que lastima!
DANNY ALMONTE Threw perfect game in 2001 Little League World Series. Later revealed to be 14 instead of 12. Flopped as a minor-league pitcher against talent his own age.
UMAKANT SHARMA Indian chess phenom lacked “mad skillz,” relied on hidden Bluetooth device to win games. Banned from competitive chess (!) for 10 years in 2006.