Did Chris Hoy and the rest of his British cycling sprint team win their gold medal by cheating?
While there can be absolutely no doubting Hoy’s blistering—probably unbeatable—speed as he anchored the three lap blast around the velodrome, their qualification got off to a shaky start with lead-off rider Philip Hindes crashing only metres after leaving the starting gate.
As he accelerated away, he put on a performance of a toddler riding without his training wheels for the first time, developing an eccentric wobble before falling gently to the ground.
It really didn’t look like the performance of a profession cyclist.
Veteran commentator Phil Liggett tried to explain the bizarre sight by claiming that Hindes had accelerated so hard, he unbalanced himself.
The truth, however, is a significantly different matter.
Australia’s Channel Nine, the Olympic broadcaster in Aus, report on their website that.
We were saying if we have a bad start we need to crash to get a restart.
I just crashed, I did it on purpose to get a restart, just to have the fastest ride.
I did it. So it was all planned, really.
This is a staggering admission.
Of course, the story changed after team management had got a hold of him. According to the same report, the story became,
Were the British Sprint Team's action in keeping with the Olympic spirit
No. I just went out the gate and just lost control, just fell down," he said when speaking to the media for a second time.
My back wheel slipped and totally lost control and then I couldn't handle the bike any more and just crashed.
Apparently he was wrong when he spoke trackside straight after the race.
The rules of the team sprint allow for a restart in the event of a crash or equipment failure in the first 30 metres. Hindes hit the deck just inside that mark.
The rule was introduced so that riders aren’t unfairly disadvantaged through no fault of their own.
This clearly wasn’t the case with Hindes.
Coming hot on the heels of the four badminton teams getting excluded from the race for throwing matches, it does raise the question as to whether the British actions were in the Olympic spirit and whether they shouldn’t also face sanctions.
The qualifying time in team sprints is only part of the result, to get to the gold medal race, it requires one of the top two fastest times in the semi-finals. There is absolutely no question that the Brits achieved that with a world record time.
Then again, the badminton teams shenanigans would not have changed who qualified for the next round, just the order in which they would have played. The world champions would still have had to win all of their games just like the cyclists.
While Hoy and Co. didn’t cheat according to the actual laws of the game, their actions certainly weren’t in keeping with the Olympic spirit.
Perhaps that doesn’t matter if you’re the host nation.