Sporting Dopes

Sporting Dopes

Another ugly scandal cast a shadow over the sport of athletics today, as my 8 year old nephew levelled an accusation of gaining an unfair advantage in The Race to the Lamppost. Actually, he called it cheating, as I had veered into his imaginary lane on the bend. I called it carving the perfect racing line.



The human body is reaching the physical limit of achievement in some sports; in athletics, mathematical models suggest that 9.45 seconds will be the ultimate 100-metre sprint record.  With ever-increasing rewards for winners and record breakers, it’s little wonder that science has been employed to enhance human performance, but where do we draw the line between using technology to gain a competitive advantage, and being the Australian cricket team?  Let’s analyse a few famous sporting scandals and deliver the WallJAM verdict – cheating or not?

Fencing: Labelled the greatest ever Olympic cheat, Boris Onischenko was sent home from Montreal in disgrace and given a ticking off by Soviet President Brezhnev for wiring up his sword to register a hit whenever it took his fancy.

WallJAM Verdict: Not guilty.  Fencing belongs in 1950s films and as you’re not allowed to spear anyone for real, livening it up with a few extra beeps and James Bond villains called Boris is a fair call.

Chess: Can we call chess a sport?  Well yes, equestrian dressage is in the Olympics, and that’s a circus act.  Gaioz Nigalidze was expelled from the Dubai Open and given a 3-year ban for storing a smartphone in a toilet cubicle, hidden behind the pan and covered in toilet paper.  An app on the phone was analysing his game and recommending moves.

WallJAM Verdict:  Guilty.  Unhygienic, but mainly because if I’d thought of this wheeze I’d be a chess grandmaster, earning big bucks, travelling the world and meeting interesting people like errrr, next…

Rugby Union:  Harlequins needed a decent kicker late in the game.  Fortunately, Tom Williams had to come off with a blood injury allowing kicker Nick Evans to come back on.  Unfortunately Williams’ “injury” was the result of biting a joke shop blood capsule, how he must have laughed at the subsequent ban.

WallJAM Verdict:  Not Guilty.  The Russian Olympic team made Dracula blush with their mass doping programme blood transfusions, this was just a tiny little capsule of fake stuff, and Evans missed the kick anyway.

The Marathon: You’re not likely to gain much sympathy in the running community by hopping on a bus for a few miles before jumping off and sprinting in to claim 3rd prize, but Rob Sloan did just that in the Kielder Marathon, protesting his innocence to this day despite the evidence of his fellow passengers and a Garmin readout which shows him “running” at 30mph!

WallJAM Verdict: Guilty. If you’re going to cheat with public transport at least use South West Trains, they’re more likely to take you there at marathon pace (if you’re lucky).

Darts: Darts? How can you cheat at darts? Phil “The Power” Taylor failed to tell the ref that his game-winning double 12 was outside the wire.

WallJAM Verdict: Not Guilty. It was the ref’s job to spot this, human error can’t be avoided but it could never happen to WallJAM, which uses advanced technology to automatically record and collate key measurements such as speed accuracy and power. Bad news for cheats, unless you can persuade Ronaldo to sign in with your name!