Marion Jones tried to – and then was stripped of her sprinting records amidst doping charges. And as early as 1904 Hippolyte Acouturier attempted to cheat in the Tour de France by attaching wire to the back of a car and holding on to it throughout the race…with his teeth (as they say, it's all fun and games until somebody loses their teeth). Apparently he didn't think anybody would notice the incredibly obvious large black car he had attached himself to as he was towed through the course. Anyway, race officials had to disqualify him and three others before finally awarding the winner (who may still have cheated, but at least not as outrageously).
It seems that we are in the midst of a culture that simultaneously salutes the winner and conveniently forgets to mention how they got there. We celebrate the win, but sometimes at the expense of doing the right thing.
There is something about our culture that is leading us astray, if we stop for a moment and think about it. With overnight sensations like Justin Beiber (bless his "Baby" heart) making headlines, we seem to think that overnight success is the norm – and something to aspire to. But, ladies and gentlemen, I submit to you that it is not. Overnight success rarely happens overnight. It is generally preceded by years of anonymity that nobody celebrates. And really, a lot of the time we are focussing on the outward trappings of success – the fame, the money, the diamond teeth (Kanye West, I'm talking to you. It seems we have a teeth theme developing here) rather than the solid success, the actual achievement. The true accomplishment is not garnering more recognition, but having the character to sustain victory with integrity, sportsmanship and perseverance.
So, this week's "Sports Cheat Sheet" focuses on the winners – and losers – of cheating. Read on for some enthralling and slightly outlandish stories of winners who were not all they were thought to be:
- 23-year-old Rosie Ruiz won the female section of the 1980 Boston Marathon in the third-fastest recorded time for a female… And that was because she had only joined the race half a mile before the finish line. Turns out she had also "run" the New York Marathon by taking the subway. Needless to say she was publicly stripped of her medals.
- Young Danny Almonte was a young star of the Little League (under 12s) baseball championship. He was doing so well… until it turned out he was 14, two years over the age limit. His team was stripped of all their wins and, needless to say, young Danny did not get the baseball career he was hoping for.
- Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson won a world-record gold in the 100m event at the Seoul Olympics. Then, he tested positive for the steroid stanozolol. He claimed that his drink was spiked, but was stripped of his gold medal and world record and banned from competition for two years. That sucks.
In conclusion, the message of this article is: don't do drugs, kids (and adults. And anyone). Don't cheat. Just don't. If you're going to win, win fairly. If you're going to lose, lose with honour. It's important to be able to hold your head high (even if you're relatively short) and stand with your shoulders back (that has nothing to do with winning. Posture is important too), look the world in the eye and say with pride, "I did it my way" (Ok now I'm just quoting Frank Sinatra). I may sound like your mother, but I promise I am not. I am just a girl with a pen (well really a laptop) asking you to take the high road.