The Best of the Worst Cheaters in Sports
Leveling the playing field. Gamesmanship. Getting a competitive advantage. Cheating.
All four words or phrases can be used interchangeably and have been employed going back to the beginnings of athletic competitions. Everyone is trying to get a leg up on their opponents, and sometimes that requires the need to either bend or break the rules without getting caught.
Many in sports history have done that very adroitly while others were just plain sloppy in their attempts. This list will run the gamut of sports cheaters, and it includes everyone from athletes and teams to owners and doctors.
There’s an old adage, "If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin'," and no one on this list will be accused of not trying. Not all were successful, but all are notable.
Here are the biggest cheaters in sports history.
HGH rumors aside, "The Sheriff" went outside the rulebook for a little help during his rookie year in the NFL. Peyton Manning hadn’t mastered the silent count at that point so when he played on the road in a hostile environment, the Indianapolis Colts used illegal devices to aid Manning and the team's offense.
Former Colts offensive lineman Tarik Glenn revealed that the O-line used special hearing aids that muffled crowd noise and amplified Manning’s voice. That made it easier for Manning to communicate even though the use of hearing aids or any types of electronic devices are prohibited by the NFL.
An unwritten rule in the NBA and all of basketball is that you always give a jump shooter space to land cleanly. Even if you play tight defense, you have to let the shooter land on his own feet instead of landing on one of the defender’s feet, leading to sprained ankles.
Jalen Rose of Fab Five and ESPN fame didn’t let Kobe Bryant do that during the 2000 NBA Finals, and he admitted it afterward. Bryant was torching the Indiana Pacers, and Rose made sure Bryant landed on his foot after a jump shot. The injury cost Bryant three quarters of one game and all of the next game, but the Lakers still won the series.
Bryant would get revenge six years later by scoring 81 points against the Raptors in which Rose was his primary defender.
The death penalty only has been implemented one time in college football — to Southern Methodist football in 1987. That was due to a number of NCAA violations by the team, including "under the table" payments for star players even though the program was already on probation. Boosters made the payments, but SMU athletic department knew about the so-called "slush fund" and approved the payments.
As a result of SMU's violations, the NCAA cancelled the team's entire 1987 season, which directly led to the cancellation of the following season as well. Since so many players left the school once the '87 season was cancelled, the program didn’t have enough players to compete the next year.
Gaylord Perry was a five-time All-Star, a two-time Cy Young winner and is a member of the Hall of Fame. However, Perry also was an unabashed cheater who threw not one, but two illegal pitches. The first was the spitball in which he doctored the baseball by applying Vaseline to it. He reportedly hid the Vaseline on the zipper of his pants because he knew umpires would never check there.
His other illegal pitch was dubbed the "puffball" that came from Perry loading up on rosin before throwing the pitch. Perry’s hand and the ball would be caked so much in the substance that a puff of white smoke would release at the same time he threw the ball.
A decade after he retired from the NFL, the greatest wide receiver of all time admitted that he had some help during his career. When talking about the great catches that receivers make with the help of gloves, Jerry Rice admitted that he put a little stickum on his gloves to help snag balls better.
"I know this might be a little illegal, guys, but you put a little spray, a little stickum on them, to make sure that texture is a little sticky," Rice said, laughing, during an ESPN feature on the evolution of gloves.
The NFL banned stickum in 1981, and Rice made his debut in 1985. Rice also said that all receivers in his era used the substance although fellow Hall of Famers Michael Irvin and Cris Carter refuted his claim.
Just as cork makes a bat lighter and allows a greater swing velocity for a batter, superballs give an added bounce to a bat to aid a hitter. No one can ever accuse Graig Nettles of corking his bat, but his cheating with the use of superballs was on full display in 1974.
After a broken-bat single, the superballs spilled out onto the field, and the opposing team’s catcher gathered them to show the umpire. Nettles’ hit was overturned, and he was ruled out on the play. However, a home run that he hit earlier in the game with the same bat was allowed to stand, and Nettles’ team ended up winning that game 1-0.
Marie Reine Le Gougne
Better known as the French judge from the 2002 Winter Olympics, Marie Reine Le Gougne was either bribed or pressured into giving low scores to the Canadian figure skating team, seemingly costing them a gold medal. She says that the French president of their ice skating federation told her what scores to give out in a complex scheme to hopefully get the French team to win gold.
Their scheme ended up backfiring as not only were those two suspended for three years by the International Skating Union, but the Olympics took the rare step of handing out two gold medals. One went to the original winners from Russia, and the other went to the team "screwed" by judging, Canada.
Hot Rod Williams
Three weeks after his college career ended in 1985, Tulane’s John "Hot Rod" Williams was arrested for point shaving. He had accepted over $8,000 for manipulating the point spreads of three Tulane games that season.
Williams was one of four Green Wave players accused of point shaving, but the others were granted immunity to testify against Williams as he was the supposed ringleader. A mistrial saved Williams from going to jail, but the Tulane basketball program would be dropped for four years before resurrecting in 1989.
Not one, not two, but three University of North Carolina teams were at the center of an academic cheating scandal in 2014. The football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball teams took fake classes in order to be eligible to play. A report also said that students had access to a computer hard drive that contained a database of previous papers, and they recycled those papers instead of writing their own.
Somehow, UNC escaped without any NCAA penalties as everything that was available to the student-athletes also was available to regular students. Thus, the student-athletes didn’t get improper benefits since those benefits were available to the entire student body.
Gregg Williams was the architect of the New Orleans Saints’ "Bountygate" scandal, an incident that wasn’t so much cheating as it was just outright dirty. His cheating days go back to 1999 (they might go back even before that) when he was the defensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans.
Williams allegedly had the offensive playbook of the Jacksonville Jaguars ahead of their AFC title game, which the Titans won and advanced to the Super Bowl. How he had an opponent's playbook is unclear, but Renaldo Wynn, who played for the Jags and was coached by Williams, said the coach told him the Titans had the Jags’ game plan.
Wynn later said he knew how Williams got the opposing playbooks, but he wouldn’t reveal how his coach did so.
The younger brother of Vladimir Guerrero, Wilton Guerrero isn’t in the Hall of Fame like his brother, but he deserves a spot in the Hall of Shame. As a rookie with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1997, Guerrero broke his bat on a grounder and rather than running to first, he ran after the shattered bat.
That tipped off the umpires that something was going, on and when they inspected one of the shattered pieces, they noticed cork in it. Guerrero was immediately ejected and later suspended eight games and fined $1,000.
Diego Maradona was the key player in maybe the most famous play in soccer. His "Hand of God" was a clear hand ball that helped propel Argentina to win the 1986 World Cup in Mexico City.
During the quarterfinal matchup against England, the 5-foot-5 Maradona had a jump ball against the 6-foot-1 goalkeeper for England, and Maradona acted like he was playing basketball or volleyball instead of soccer as he intentionally used his left hand to punch the ball before the keeper could corral it. The ball bounced right into the net, and Argentina went on to win 2-1 and become World Cup champions.
Maradona initially denied he used his hand but later said the goal was scored "a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God."
Green Bay Packers
In the Green Bay Packers' first season in the NFL in 1921, founder and head coach Curly Lambeau tried to pull a fast one on the rival Chicago Staleys (who later became the Bears). Lambeau recruited three of Notre Dame’s best players to suit up for his team, even though they were still in college.
George Halas, the founder and coach of the Bears, found out about it and reported the infraction to the fledgling NFL. As a result, the league revoked the Packers' franchise from the league, and they were only admitted back in after Lambeau repaid the $50 entry fee.
To make things even worse for the Packers, they lost that first game to Chicago 20-0 with college players.
This list is mostly populated with athletes, coaches or entire teams breaking the rules, but Tim Donaghy is the most notorious referee in NBA history for admitting he bet on games. He was a gambling addict with ties to organized crime, and his debt got so bad that for his last two years as an official (2005-2007) he made calls that affected the point spreads of games.
Donaghy also passed along confidential information such as player injuries and player-ref relationships to his friends so they could have insider knowledge when they made bets. For his role as the principal figure in one of the biggest scandals to hit the NBA, Donaghy was sentenced to 15 months in jail after pleading guilty to federal charges related to the investigation.
Pitchers will go to extreme measures to get an advantage and will even resort to blading themselves. In 1980, Seattle Mariners southpaw Rick Honeycutt did just that by inserting a thumb tack into his glove.
Between pitches Honeycutt scuffed the ball but ended up just cutting himself instead. After giving up hits on the only pitches he scuffed, Honeycutt stopped doctoring the balls. But MLB still caught wind and suspended him 10 days along with fining him $500.
"Before that game, I came down from the bullpen and sat in the dugout and I forgot I had [put the tack in my glove]," Honeycutt told the Los Angeles Times in 1987. "So, I took off my glove and wiped the sweat off my forehead and cut my head with the tack."
The 2013 Louisville Cardinals became the first national champions to have their championship vacated thanks to the fallout of a team sex scandal. The team’s former director of basketball operations paid thousands of dollars for women to have sex and dance for both current players and incoming recruits.
The purpose (besides the obvious) was to entice prospects to come to Louisville and to retain upperclassmen who were thinking about leaving for the NBA.
Louisville got stripped of its title in 2018, and that director of basketball operations was hit with a 10-year show-cause penalty, which means he can’t work for any NCAA school for a decade.
In his final NFL season in 2012, Ray Lewis tore his triceps muscle in October and was ruled out for the rest of the season. The normal recovery for this injury and surgery is 4-6 months, but somehow, someway, Lewis returned to the lineup less than three months later, thanks to Deer Antler Spray.
The spray contains a substance that is banned under the NFL’s steroids policy. Just as Barry Bonds used the "clear" and the "cream" to enhance his performance, Ray Lewis used the "spray" to speed up the recovery time of his injury.
Lewis went on to win the Super Bowl with the Ravens that season and retired after the game.
Kevin Gross was a journeyman pitcher who struggled with control and led the NL in either hit batsemen or walks four times in his career. To get some much-needed control in 1987, Gross glued sandpaper in his glove in order to doctor the ball between pitches.
The opposing team’s manager thought something was going on and had the umpires go to the mound to inspect Gross’ glove. Once they found the sandpaper, they immediately ejected him, and he was suspended for 10 games.
Minnesota basketball may not a top-tier NCAA program, but the team sure committed some top-tier infractions over seven years. Its head coach, Clem Haskins, urged academic counseling manager Jan Ganglehoff to do coursework and write term papers for over 20 Golden Gopher players from 1993 to 1999.
Ganglehoff often duplicated the same work for different basketball players and was getting paid by Haskins the whole time. Haskins lost his job, but not before getting a $1.5 million buyout from the University of Minnesota, although he later had to return $815,000 of it.
From 2013 to 2014, the Atlanta Falcons were among the worst teams in the NFL. They went a combined 10-22 over that span, and their home attendance was lackluster. Thus, their director of event marketing concocted a scheme to pipe in artificial crowd noise into the Georgia Dome to make the venue appear louder to opponents.
The NFL caught wind and punished the team by fining them $350,000, stripping them of a draft pick and suspending team president Rich McKay from the NFL’s competition committee.
As for the marketing director, he was fired by the Falcons and would have been suspended for eight weeks by the NFL had he remained an employee.
Allegations of using performance-enhancing drugs followed Marion Jones for 15 years before she finally admitted to using them during the BALCO investigation in 2007.
Jones was one of the biggest American stars during the 2000 Summer Olympics, and she won five medals in athletics. However, her cheating admission meant that she would be stripped of all five medals and four additional medals in other competitions.
To make matters worse, at the same time all of this was going on, Jones also was involved in check fraud. In the span of one month, Jones was stripped of her Olympic medals and sentenced to six months in jail for the check fraud case.
The 1962 NL MVP deserves points for creativity for what he did as the Seattle Mariners' manager in 1980. Wills instructed the groundskeeper to make the batter’s box one foot bigger with that extra foot being toward the pitcher.
The Mariners just happened to be facing a breaking ball pitcher that day so being closer to the mound meant the ball wouldn’t break as much heading toward the plate. The opposing team’s manager noticed and called out Wills, and the umpiring crew had the batter’s box reshaped to regulation length.
Wills was suspended two games for his actions.
Before John McGraw became a Hall of Famer and the second-winningest manager in Major League Baseball history, he was a dirty, cheating ballplayer.
The rules were much less sophisticated around the turn of the 20th century when McGraw was playing, and he wasn’t above bending or breaking those rules. As an infielder, McGraw would stand on the inside corner of bases and make baserunners go around him.
He also would grab runners belt loops when they tried to tag and advance a base, and always would put himself in the basepaths to slow down runners.
A two-time Golden Gloves champion, Luis Resto was looking for his big break as a professional boxer when he took on the undefeated Billy Collins Jr. in 1983. Resto shocked the world by defeating Collins in a unanimous decision.
However, when the two went to shake hands at the end of the fight, Collins’ trainer discovered Resto’s gloves were thinner than usual.
Collins’ camp cried foul, and an investigation into Resto’s gloves revealed that padding had been cut from the gloves and replaced with chalk. Resto also later revealed that his trainer would put asthma pills into his water bottles, thus giving him greater lung capacity in the later rounds of fights.
The New York State Boxing Commission overturned Resto’s win, and the fight became a no contest. Resto also was found guilty of assault and criminal possession of a weapon (his hands), which resulted in a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence.
Some would call this gamesmanship while others would call it cheating, but Lawrence Taylor was well aware of the vices of his opponents. In his autobiography, Taylor admitted to routinely hiring escorts on the eve of games and sending them to the hotel rooms of opposing running backs. If the escorts "did their job," then the running backs would have weary legs the next day.
While the above likely isn’t explicitly mentioned in the NFL rulebook, LT’s other tactic most certainly is. Taylor also admitted to using teammate’s urine in order to pass drug tests.
The fact that a book about the 1970s Raiders is titled "Cheating is Encouraged" tells you all you need to know about the tactics Al Davis employed with his team.
There was cornerback Lester Hayes using stickum to help get interceptions. There was quarterback Ken Stabler greasing his jersey so it would be difficult for opponents to grab ahold of him. There was also the time the Raiders’ home field was soaking wet and muddy in the middle of a California drought. That was done to slow down the Raiders’ opponent, which was a great rushing team.
Davis was a maverick in every sense of the word, and he wasn’t bashful about using gamesmanship to fulfill his motto: "Just win, baby."
Did you know the single biggest fine in NBA history ($3.5 million) centered around former No. 1 overall draft pick Joe Smith? In 1999, Smith signed with the Timberwolves for a surprisingly low amount of money.
After playing the 1999-2000 season with Minnesota, everyone realized why Smith was so underpaid. The Timberwolves front office, led by general manager Kevin McHale, had agreed to essentially pay Smith under the table so that some of the money he received wouldn’t count against the salary cap. They tried to circumvent the salary cap to add other players.
The league caught wind of that move and levied the biggest fine in NBA history, took away five first-round draft picks (two later would be restored) and voided the rest of Smith’s contract.
Smith became a free agent, signed a market deal with the Detroit Pistons and then (legally) returned to the Timberwolves the following season.
Whitey Ford and Elston Howard
Whitey Ford, a pitcher, and Elston Howard, a catcher, were a battery for the New York Yankees during the 1950s and '60s. After retiring, Ford admitted to doctoring baseballs and had the help of his trusted catcher.
One example was the mudball, where Howard purposely would coat balls in mud before throwing them back to Ford. Howard also used a sharpened buckle on his shin guard to scuff the ball before giving it back to Ford.
The pair’s tactics led to abundant success for the Yankees as they were each part of six World Series-winning teams, and Ford was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
In the 1960s, Arnold Schwarzenegger was a champion in both powerlifting and weightlifting in his native Austria, but it was the sport of bodybuilding where he first made his fame.
Schwarzenegger won seven Mr. Universe titles between 1970 and 1980 and did as much for the sport of bodybuilding as anyone. However, he would later admit to using steroids to obtain his physique and once said, "It was what I had to do to compete."
In Schwarzenegger’s defense, he was just leveling the playing field because nearly everyone he was competing with was also on the juice.
One of Al Davis’ final acts as owner of the Raiders was to call out his former coach Mike Shanahan and the rival Denver Broncos. In 2008, Davis claimed that the Broncos' two Super Bowls from the late 1990s should have an asterisk because "they were caught cheating."
Davis is referring to the Broncos violating the salary cap by giving stars John Elway and Terrell Davis $29 million in deferred payments. What the Broncos called an "accounting snafu" was labelled as cheating by the NFL, and the league took away two third-round picks and fined the team nearly $2 million.
What’s the equivalent of PEDs in NASCAR? Illegal fuel.
In 2007, the Michael Waltrip Racing team was found to have an illegal fuel additive in their cars following qualifying for the Daytona 500. The additive was described as "rocket fuel," and it was being used to increase the performance of vehicles.
NASCAR confiscated all of the cars that had the fuel for Daytona, thus forcing the drivers to use backups for the race. Waltrip and other drivers on his team were docked driver points in addition to fines and suspensions for crew members.
A two-time winner of the Daytona 500, Waltrip finished that 2007 race in 30th place.
One of the most feared and temperamental sluggers of the 1990s, Albert Belle had his fair share of problems with teammates, the media and even trick-or-treaters. But he lands on this list for using a corked bat during a game in 1994.
Not satisfied with just cheating, Belle then tried to tamper with evidence in order to retrieve the corked bat from the umpires’ locker room. Belle sent teammate Jason Grimsley crawling through a ceiling passageway until he reached the umpire’s room to exchange the bats. However, one of the umpires later noticed the bats were different, and the new bat in the locker room wasn’t even Belle’s.
He was suspended for 10 games, and teammate Omar Vizquel later said all of Belle’s bats were corked with the Indians.
The Italian soccer scandal in 2006 involved five teams, but Juventus gets top billing since they were the Series A champions. Unlike the Tim Donaghy NBA scandal in which one referee went rogue, this scandal involved teams and referee organizations working together to rig games.
Telephone conversations show that Juventus’ general manager contacted several Italian officials to influence the appointments of refs. Juventus (and other clubs) were paying off referee organizations so that they could handpick the refs who would officiate their games.
As a result, Juventus, which won the league championship the season of the wrongdoing, was stripped of their title and relegated to a lower division the next season. That would be similar to the Red Sox being stripped of the 2018 World Series and being sent to Triple-A for the 2019 season.
How does a jump-shooter like Reggie Miller manage to attempt over 7,000 free throws in his career? By cleverly coming up with a move in which he initiates contact when shooting, but the person guarding him gets whistled for the foul.
Miller was known for kicking out his leg when shooting three-pointers but when his foot came into contact with an opponent, Miller would act like he was the one who was harmed. His tactic worked. When Miller retired in 2005, only Michael Jordan had more free-throw attempts among shooting guards in NBA history.
New England Patriots
In the current era of the NFL, the New England Patriots reign supreme as the league’s best winners and worst cheaters. You can’t deny five Super Bowl wins since 2001, and you can’t deny Spygate, Deflategate and the litany of other controversies surrounding the team trying to get a competitive advantage.
While most are aware of the two "gates," there are also other cases of cheating such as the team messing with the headsets of opponents during games at Gillette Stadium. Mike Tomlin of the Steelers said his team once got the Patriots’ radio broadcast in their headsets during an entire first half.
Additionally, many opponents are wary of what they say within the visitor locker room at Gillette Stadium. Peyton Manning reportedly avoided discussing strategy when playing in Foxborough because he feared the locker rooms were bugged.
The video of an irate George Brett running out of the dugout to get in the face of the umpire who said he violated pine tar rules is iconic. Brett was found to be in violation of how much pine tar he could have on his bat and he was clearly livid.
What many people don’t realize is that when the ump overturned Brett’s home run and ruled him out, it ended the game because it was the final out of the ninth inning. One commentator noted that Brett may have been the first person to ever hit a game-losing home run.
However, the Royals protested the game, and their protest was upheld, which meant the game would be resumed from the point of Brett’s homer. Kansas City went on to win that game, and Brett’s pine tar bat currently resides in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
One could argue that the NCAA has cheated every student-athlete who is unable to capitalize on their likeness, but this entry deals with one athlete in particular: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Known as Lew Alcindor while at UCLA, Alcindor was an All-American in his sophomore year as the Bruins went 30-0 and won the national championship. But Alcindor was too dominant for the NCAA’s pleasure as they then created the "Lew Alcindor Rule" in 1967 to prohibit dunks.
Just imagine if the NBA banned the three-point shot because Stephen Curry is too good at shooting it. That’s essentially what happened, and the NCAA didn’t reinstate the dunk until 1977.
Nearly Every MLB Slugger From the 1990s
If the person swinging the bat is cheating, but the person throwing the pitch is also cheating, then is it a level playing field? Perhaps. But the period in baseball known as the "Steroids Era" — generally regarded as the late 1980s through the late 2000s — was a black eye for the sport with rampant steroid and performance-enhancing drug (PED) use that tarnished the legacies of many all-time greats.
Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa (who also got popped with a corked bat). All of these historically great players either admitted to using PEDs or have been dogged with accusations since leaving the game.
MLB didn’t start steroids testing until 2003, but these players, and many others knew they were cheating the integrity of the sport.
Dora Ratjen was a German athlete who won the women’s high jump at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. There was just one problem: Ratjen was male.
Ratjen would strap up his genitalia in order to present himself as female and would also later break the world record for the women’s high jump. However, after some suspicion, testing was done on Ratjen that revealed he was male all along.
Ratjen was stripped of the gold medal, and the world record but would later admit that he was forced to compete as a female. With the 1936 Games taking place in Germany, Hitler didn’t want to be embarrassed by a Jewish athlete winning so Nazis forced Ratjen to compete as a woman "for the sake of the honor and glory of Germany."
The founder, owner and first coach of the Chicago Bears took gamesmanship to a new level during the early days of the NFL.
Halas reportedly had a dog trained to run out onto the field in case he needed a stoppage of play if the Bears were out of timeouts. Halas also would mess with the toiletries of opponents whenever they played in Chicago, including cutting holes in their towels and putting itching powder in their bars of soap.
He was never disciplined for his mischievous acts, and perhaps the league let him slide based on creativity alone.
The erstwhile University of Massachusetts and Memphis coach made the Final Four at those mid-majors, only for the appearances to be vacated later.
Both situations involved the teams’ best player being ruled ineligible with Marcus Camby (UMass) accepting improper benefits and Derrick Rose (Memphis) not taking his own SAT. Calipari, himself, was not implicated in either case, but the wrongdoing fell under his watch, so he shoulders some of the blame.
To the surprise of many, Calipari hasn’t run afoul of the NCAA while at Kentucky. But there’s still time.
The wonderkid Little League pitcher shoulders part of the blame for being on this list, but his coaches and parents also are at fault.
The 14-year-old Almonte helped pitch his Bronx Little League team to a third-place finish at the 2001 Little League World Series. The only problem was Almonte (and others) lied about his age, and he was actually two years older than the 12-year-old limit.
Due to Almonte being so much better than everyone else on the field, an investigation was launched to find out his real age. When it was discovered that he was ineligible, the Bronx Little League team was forced to vacate its wins while both Almonte’s father and the Little League president were banned from Little League competition for life.
Almonte went on to play some junior college ball but never made it to the majors.
How can we have a list for the biggest sports cheaters and not include a man whose nickname is "The Dirtiest Player in the Game"?
Ric Flair was known for doing everything under the sun to his opponent without it being under the nose of the referee. Eye gouging. Low blows. You name it. He did it.
It’s fitting, but fortunate at the same time, that the man who cheated more than any other in the ring also cheated death in 2017. Flair suffered organ failure, which required colon surgery and the removal of his bowel, all of this stemming from decades of hard living.
Flair is now retired, but his daughter, Charlotte, became a pro wrestler, and she’s known as "The Dirtiest Diva in the Game."
Dr. Mark Gerard
We go to the sport of horse racing to find Dr. Mark Gerard, who was one of the top veterinarians of the 1960s and '70s.
In 1977, he purchased two horses: Cinzano for $81,000 and Lebon for $1,600. The two horses had a strong resemblance, and Gerard masterminded a horse swap to cash in on Lebon winning.
Gerard claimed Cinzano died in a farm accident and received $150,000 in insurance but then entered the real Cinzano as "Lebon" in a race a short time later. The fake Lebon ended up winning the race despite 57-to-1 odds, and Gerard cashed in with over $80,000 in earnings.
However, a journalist spotted the difference in the horses, and Gerard was found guilty of a fraud misdemeanor. He was sentenced to a year in jail and forced to pay a $1,000 fine.
The stories of what Red Auerbach did to opponents at the old Boston Garden are legendary (if you’re from Boston) or downright cruel (if you played against the Celtics). It wasn’t uncommon for the visitor’s locker room at the arena to not have hot water for showers which is just a minor convenience compared to what else Auerbach ordered.
The Garden wasn’t the most sophisticated arena, so it didn’t have air conditioning, which affected everyone including the Celtics. But Auerbach took things a step further by cranking up the heat in the visitor’s locker room. That’s taking home-court advantage to another level.
1951 New York (Baseball) Giants
This team is best known for Bobby Thomson hitting the "Shot Heard ‘Round the World," which was a game-winning, pennant-winning home run against the Brooklyn Dodgers. The game was the first-ever televised nationally, but controversy arose in later years when rumors surfaced that the Giants engaged in sign stealing during the second half of that season.
The team had a telescope set up in center field, and a coach who operated it would see signs and then relay those to the Giants dugout. There was no rule against sign stealing using a device at that time, but 10 years later in 1961, Major League Baseball outlawed the use of optical devices.
As for Thomson’s legendary home run, he always maintained that he had no knowledge of the pitch that resulted in one of the most famous moments in baseball history.
The use of PEDs in combat sports certainly isn’t new, or even noteworthy at this point. Thus, former three-time welterweight boxing champion Antonio Margarito makes this list for something far more sinister.
Before a fight against Shane Mosley in 2009, officials found a white substance in Margarito’s hand wraps. One doctor likened the material to plaster of Paris, which is often used to make orthopedic casts.
Once officials caught wind of this, they made Margarito rewrap his hands, and he went on to lose that fight.
His trainer tried to take the blame by saying he placed the wrong inserts in the hand wraps, but the California State Athletic Commission didn’t buy it and suspended Margarito and his trainer for one year.
Rosie Ruiz was a runner who appeared to run the fastest Boston Marathon in history in 1980 on her way to winning the race. However, there were suspicions about Ruiz’ race as soon as she crossed the finish line.
She barely was sweating, her heart rate was relatively normal, and she was not seen at several checkpoints throughout the race. Two Harvard students who witnessed the race say they saw her emerge from a crowd of spectators at about half a mile from the finish line.
The Boston Athletic Association did its research and determined that Ruiz didn’t run the entire race. She was stripped of her victory eight days later.
Lance Armstrong once was, and arguably still is, the face of the sport of cycling. He overcame near fatal cancer to win seven Tour de France titles before being stripped of them following doping allegations. But it was much more than allegations as Armstrong admitted to using PEDs and getting blood transfusions throughout his career.
Once seen as a hero, Armstrong then became a villain and has remained out of the public eye for the most part since then.
Some acts of cheating only hurt a player within their respective sport, but this did far more damage to Armstrong than simply within cycling. He lost every single one of his sponsors amid the doping revelations, and it’s estimated that cost him $75 million in sponsorship income.
2000 Spain Paralympics Basketball Team
For about two months Spain was the gold medalist in Basketball ID (Intellectual Disabilities) for the 2000 Paralympics.
Then all hell broke loose.
After the games ended, it was revealed that of the 12 Spanish players, 10 of them had no disability at all. One of the players admitted that no one on the team was even subject to medical or psychological tests to check their eligibility.
As a result, Spain was stripped of its gold medals and the vice president of the Spanish Federation for Mentally Handicapped Sports resigned.
Additionally, the Paralympics Committee was so ticked off at what happened that they completely removed all intellectual disabilities competitions from the 2002 Paralympics Games. Events for athletes with intellectual disabilities were reinstated for the 2004 Paralympics Games.
Related: Harshest Punishments in Sports History