Biggest Behind-the-Scenes Cheaters in Sports History
Some people never learned that cheaters never prosper.
Well, sometimes they prosper, but eventually cheaters get greedy, and then they get caught.
Whether it's a crime syndicate, a crooked general manager, a dirty college program or a steroids production plant, bad deeds end up punished.
It's time to look at the darkest, most devious scandals. It's time for the biggest behind-the-scenes cheaters in sports history.
Honorable Mention: Ivan Drago
It’s the mid-1980s and the Cold War is in full swing.
To lighten the tension, the United States sets up an exhibition match between all-American Apollo Creed and Russian deviant Ivan Drago. Desperate to get his career back on track, Creed accepts the fight and employs Rocky Balboa to train him.
Creed’s pre-fight attitude can only be described as "jovial." He has the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, serenade him as he approaches the ring, and the American fans are eating it up.
But once the fight starts, serious trouble ensues. Drago dismantles Creed in the first round, and Balboa pleads with Creed to retire from the fight. He doesn’t, and Drago kills him in the ring.
Filled with hate, Rocky accepts a fight with the physically-imposing Russian on his turf. Balboa travels to Russia to train for the fight, using old-school methods to whip his body into sound shape.
Meanwhile, Drago is juicing—hard. He’s also training in a high-tech facility while Balboa trains outdoors and in a barn.
Rocky and Drago’s fight starts out much like Creed’s fight, but the scrappy Balboa finds a way to penetrate Drago’s super body. Balboa wins and, for some reason, the proud Russian people cheer for the American despite being just five years removed from the Miracle on Ice.
19. Luciano Moggi
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The then-general manager of Juventus in Italy’s top professional league, Serie A, Luciano Moggi made some phone calls he probably should have never made back in 2005.
Moggi made calls to try and influence referee appointment during his matchups. By selecting referees, Juventus was capable of fixing games. They won league titles in 2005 and 2006, but after a thorough investigation and documented phone calls, Moggi was found guilty of his actions.
Juventus was initially relegated to Serie C1, but an appeal improved their status to Serie B. They were stripped of their 2005 and 2006 titles, and had to play three home games behind closed doors.
They were also banned for the 2006-2007 UEFA Champions League.
18. Nikolay Davydenko
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Fixing a match in tennis is easy—you can withdraw at any time.
And even though Nikolay Davydenko was "cleared" of any wrongdoing during a 2007 match, the evidence is rather forthcoming.
Up a set, Davydenko withdrew, citing a foot injury.
Meanwhile, back in Russia, several large bets were made on an online betting website. One party wagered $1.5 million, another earned $6 million.
Maybe it was just a good guess? Probably not.
Davydenko has lost some questionable first-round matchups despite his high rank. He was even asked to "play his best" by the chair umpire at the Paris Masters in 2007.
17. Rocco and Anthony Perla
What happens when an old high school buddy gets a starting role for a Division I basketball team?
Well, usually, you’re happy for the guy. You go to some games, check the box score when he’s on the road and try to get him to hook you up with one of the cheerleaders.
You see, they were old chums with Eddie Kuhn. And when he was entering his senior season at Boston College, they decided they would make some money shaving points.
Their fall? They got Henry Hill involved.
Yeah, the Henry Hill from Goodfellas.
When he was arrested for drug trafficking, he turned informant in exchange for a lighter sentence.
16. Dirty Olympic Judges
There was a point in time when almost every boxing expert considered Roy Jones, Jr. to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
But before he made his mark as a professional, Jones was an Olympian.
The light middleweight crushed his opponents at the 1998 games in Seoul. He floated all the way to the finals without even losing a single round.
And when he saw his opponent, Park-Si Hun in the other corner, he knew what he had to do.
For three rounds, Jones undressed his South Korean counterpart. When it was all said and done, Jones had landed 86 punches, and Park had gotten his gloves on Jones 32 times. It was as clear-cut a final as any in recent memory.
The judges, however, saw it a little differently. They voted 3-2 in favor of Park.
Nine years later, the IOC found out that three of the judges were persuaded by South Korean officials. Though Jones was robbed of Olympic gold, the IOC never turned over the rightful medal to the American, but they did establish a new scoring system for Olympic boxing.
15. Bill Belichick
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Spygate! The 2007 New England Patriots sure were good. Maybe a little too good.
The genius, the oracle, the living legend himself, Bill Belichick was caught illegally videotaping his opposition. Belichick had an employee tape the New York Jets’ defensive coaches.
After an investigation by the NFL, Belichick and company were found guilty of the misdeed. Belichick received a $500,000 fine, and the Pats got a $250,000 fine of their own.
That’s a lot of coin for some "harmless" videotape.
14. Benny Silman
I don’t know where you meet seedy characters offering you hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for a fixed basketball score, but I could sure use the cash.
Benny Silman got to Arizona State basketball players Steven Smith and Isaac Burton in 1994. He offered them a cut of his take if they would assist in shaving points in four games at the end of the season.
Silman’s promise netted more than half a million dollars for his "employers."
Four years later, Silman pleaded guilty to bribing players and earned himself a four-year sentence in federal prison.
13. Brian McNamee
One of Major League Baseball’s most intriguing allegations of steroid use was that of Roger Clemens.
"The Rocket" once struck out 20 batters in a game, he played on both sides of the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry and he is, without a doubt, one of the best pitchers the game has ever seen.
But his ex-trainer ratted him out.
Brian McNamee testified against Clemens in a 2008 U.S. Congressional Hearing. McNamee stated he helped acquire anabolic steroids, HGH and other drugs for the right-hander, and even added that he himself injected Clemens.
Clemens has denied these allegations, but his inclusion in the Mitchell Report would suggest otherwise.
12. Bob Hitch, Henry Lee Parker and Bobby Collins
Since the mid-1970s, SMU was dirty. It wasn’t until the early 1980s that their officials "allegedly" knew, but they had been dirty for years. The Mustangs got pinched in 1987 for booster payments equaling $61,000 during the 1986 season.
Hitch, Parker and Collins all denied that their players were receiving monetary benefits while at school, but the evidence was overwhelming.
When the allegations came to light, SMU faced the harshest punishment the NCAA has ever handed down: the Death Penalty.
Simply put, the Mustangs’ 1987 season was cancelled. It has taken more than two decades for the program to get back on track. Since the fateful punishment, SMU has enjoyed only three winning seasons.
11. Lloyd Lake and Michael Michaels
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Reggie Bush single-handedly took down his alma mater.
Well, maybe not single-handedly.
While at USC, Bush took lavish presents from sports agent Lloyd Lake and his partner, Michael Michaels.
(What were his parents thinking?)
The total amount of the gifts? Apparently about $29,000—at least that’s what Lake sued Bush for in 2007.
Bush’s misstep crippled USC. His deeds cost the university 30 scholarships, bowl banishment in 2010 and 2011, and vacated all of its 2005 wins, plus the 2004 Orange Bowl.
10. Rodney Guillory
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Before O.J. Mayo helped besmirch the name of USC basketball, Rodney Guillory was already helping two other athletes earn NCAA bans.
Tito Maddox and Jeff Trepagnier of Fresno State allowed Guillory to purchase plane tickets for their personal use.
The problem? Guillory was representing a sports agency, and the NCAA doesn’t like it when their student athletes are walking around with representation.
So, then there was Mayo.
Guillory had been lurking around O.J. since seventh grade. His trolling turned their relationship fruitful, and Guillory convinced Mayo to attend USC.
While in school, Guillory gave Mayo bundles of cash and gifts. BDA Sports gave Guillory $200,000 when Mayo signed with the agency before the 2008 draft.
As for USC, they were already facing serious ramifications after the Reggie Bush incident. The NCAA decided they would combine their investigation and punish accordingly.
9. Nevin Shapiro
What’s better than getting caught by the NCAA boosting more than $2 million?
How about getting caught by the FBI running a Ponzi scheme that diverted more than $35 million?
Ah, Nevin Shapiro, your dirty deeds apparently don’t come dirt cheap.
In fact, Shapiro’s Ponzi scheme orchestrated $930 million—that’s a lot of coin!
While Shapiro was ripping money off investors, he was providing all sorts of goodies to the University of Miami: Cash, prostitutes, favors, abortions and sex parties were running wild in South Beach.
Unless you have been living under a rock the past few months, you know Shapiro is incarcerated. He received a 20-year sentence and has to pay more than $82 million in restitution. His jailhouse interview fingered 72 Hurricanes who took gifts or favors while at school.
The University of Miami is in big trouble.
8. Antonio Margarito
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How do you make boxing more brutal than it already is?
How about by wrapping your hands in plaster?
That’s what Antonio Margarito and his trainer, Javier Capetillo, did before a bout.
Luckily, they were caught before the fight took place, but a similar red stain was spotted after his brawl with Miguel Cotto.
After an investigation, Margarito was banned from boxing for one year. Seems like something that should get you banned for a lifetime.
7. Victor Conte
Former Tower of Power bassist and thin mustache enthusiast Victor Conte found a new career after music: creating and distributing banned substances to professional athletes.
The BALCO founder helped develop substances that could not be detected by a myriad of drug tests. He had a hand in developing THG, and with his super-drugs, he aided dozens of professional athletes.
The most visual, though, were Barry Bonds and Marion Jones. Bonds still claims he’s clean, but Jones, the Olympic champion, came clean and admitted to using banned substances.
Conte earned himself a four-month prison sentence for his actions and another four months of house arrest.
The athletes tied to Conte received a lifetime of scrutiny and will be called "cheaters" for the rest of their lives.
6. Tim Donaghy
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Most fans think the referees are unfairly treating their teams. It’s hard to stay impartial when one roots for their squad so fervently.
I remember sitting down in front of the television in 2002 and hoping—no, praying—the Sacramento Kings would find a way past the immensely-talented Lakers.
Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals was a joke. Every call went against the Kings.
But, it was just in my head, right? Wrong.
Even though Tim Donaghy, in retrospect, shouldn’t necessarily be trusted, but he did make a compelling statement about the game in question. Donaghy revealed that the NBA wanted the series to be extended to seven games.
The officiating crew that night made it happen.
But before we knew any of this, Donaghy was getting into some serious trouble with the wrong kind of people. His way of getting out of trouble shook the NBA and professional sports as a whole.
Donaghy agreed to control the point spread of dozens of NBA games. He was successful in it, too, earning his "bosses" an amount of money that cannot be estimated.
Donaghy received 15 months in a federal prison once he was found guilty, and NBA fans now have a legitimate beef with the officials.
5. Tonya Harding
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Every time I think about the Tonya Harding scandal at the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, I can’t believe it actually happened.
To quote the whiny and bludgeoned Nancy Kerrigan, "Why?!?!?!"
Harding was good. She won the 1991 U.S. Championships and finished second in the World Championships that same year.
She was also the first American woman to complete a triple axle.
But for some reason, she did what she did.
And what she did was straight out of a bad movie. An unbelievable movie. A movie that would have you rolling your eyes back into your head as you thought in a snarky tone, "Yeah, right."
Harding helped conspire an attack on her biggest competitor, Kerrigan. Her hired goon clubbed Kerrigan on the leg in an attempt to break it, but only left a bruise. Kerrigan withdrew from the event, and Harding won.
They both were selected to represent their country in Lillehammer, though. Harding finished a disappointing eighth, while the fully-recovered Kerrigan took home the silver.
After it was all said and done, Harding’s husband (also a conspirator) accepted a plea bargain in exchange for testimony. Harding pleaded guilty and got three years probation, community service and was stuck with a $160,000 fine.
Harding also received a lifetime ban from USFSA events and was stripped of her 1994 national title.
4. Pablo Escobar
Though the details are fuzzy about why Andres Escobar was murdered after the 1994 World Cup, we do know it had something (like, everything) to do with money.
Andres tried to clear a ball from in front of his goal, and when he did, it resulted in an own goal. Columbia lost the match, and a bunch of gamblers lost a boatload of money.
Those angry gamblers and drug lords wanted vindication for the mistake, so they ordered a hit on Andres Escobar. Humberto Castro Munoz carried it out. He was sentenced to 43 years in prison, but got out after only 11.
Pretty lenient system they got down there, apparently.
3. Dave Bliss
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It’s surprising Dave Bliss isn’t behind bars. The former Baylor coach was in the middle of something hairy.
His program was breaking the rules. Bliss was making illicit tuition payments for two of his players: Patrick Dennehy and Corey Herring.
Also, his players were drinking heavily and smoking mass quantities of marijuana—and coach Bliss knew about it.
Things got serious when Dennehy was murdered by his teammate Carlton Dotson. Bliss knew he would be checked out extensively, so he began to lie.
Because Dennehy wasn’t on a full scholarship, Bliss had arranged for the remainder of his tuition to be paid. More than $18,000 had been paid to the university, so Bliss publicly described the recently-deceased Dennehy as a drug dealer. Bliss even pretended to be Dennehy’s father while calling the financial aid office to check on tuition payments.
It was all very confusing, but the NCAA decided to blackball Bliss until 2015.
2. Arnold Rothstein
Even though he saw no ramifications for his "alleged" orchestration of the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, there was plenty of evidence to support Rothstein’s guilt.
The Jewish mafia kingpin started off as a savvy businessman before turning to a life of crime. After opening a casino in Manhattan, he invested in a racetrack in Maryland where he began fixing races.
By the time he was 30, he was a millionaire.
So in 1919, he saw an opportunity to make a killing.
Rothstein’s goons convinced eight Chicago White Sox to throw the World Series. Happy Felsch, Chick Gandil, Fred McMullin, Swede Risberg, Buck Weaver, Eddie Cicotte, Lefty Williams and the great Shoeless Joe Jackson all received lifetime bans for their involvement in the scandal as the Sox lost the best-of-nine series.
Nine years later, Rothstein was murdered after reneging on a $320,000 poker loss. Despite being one of the most talented teams in baseball at the time, the White Sox were cursed by the 1919 season. It took 86 years before Chicago won another World Series.
1. Luis Resto and Panama Lewis
Documented in an HBO documentary called Assault in the Ring, Luis Resto and his trainer, Panama Lewis, went a long way to beat a young Irish fighter named Billy Collins, Jr.
Collins was a big favorite going into the bout, and Resto and Lewis were (obviously) willing to do anything to win. Resto and Lewis proceeded to remove padding from Resto’s gloves in order to inflict more damage.
Suffice it to say, Collins was brutalized, and Resto won the fight.
Both men were banned for life from boxing, and Collins’ life spun out of control after losing the pivotal match. Because of the blows to his eyes during his matchup with Resto, Collins tore an iris and could not see well enough to box again.
A few years later, Collins was involved in a deadly car crash.