The 40 Worst Cheaters in Sports History

Todd Boldizsar@@toddboldizsarAnalyst IDecember 9, 2010

The 40 Worst Cheaters in Sports History

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    SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 27:  Barry Bonds gestures from his seat during Game One of the 2010 MLB World Series at AT&T Park on October 27, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    For each one honorable way to succeed, there are a dozen ways to cheat in order to get there too. Over the thousands of years of sport (although we'll stick to the most recent two hundred or so), these people take the cake for doing it dirty. 

    In the end, cheating is cheating, but here is a ginormous sampler with an array of flavors.

    Also check out: The 20 Worst Cheap Shots in Sports

Honorable Mention: John McGraw: Orioles, Cardinals, Giants Utility Man 1891-1906

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    McGraw played professional baseball in a time without cameras, viral videos or ESPN. In his day, players could get away with a lot more if they did it out of sight from the umpires. 

    Testimonies and interviews from men that played with McGraw say he would hold on to the belt loops of base runners tagging up at third base, trip players rounding second or step in front of them to slow them down. 

    At 155 pounds, McGraw demanded respect. Maybe if the players had kept a pack of smokes in their back pocket to hand McGraw before the game, they wouldn't have to worry about a little extra weight dragging off their belt loops.

Honorable Mention 2: Bill Belichick Is Josh McDaniels' Hero

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 05:  Head coach Josh McDaniels of the Denver Broncos looks on from the sidelines during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs on December 5, 2010 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Ima
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    McDaniels was caught using a videographer to spy on the San Francisco 49ers. Perhaps McDaniels was desperate after his team's 3-9 start to the 2010 season.

40. Colorado Football and The Fifth Down

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    In 1990, the Colorado Buffaloes were pitted against the Missouri Tigers and trailed late in the game. On their final drive, the Buffaloes marched down inside the Tigers' five-yard-line. After a fourth down run attempt failed, the ball should have gone to the Tigers. However, the Buffaloes quickly lined up, snapped the ball and scored the game-winning touchdown.

    Later it was revealed the down card was never flipped while the officials discussed whether the Buffaloes had scored on the previous play. 

    The game is now called the "Fifth Down" game for obvious reasons.

39. Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Jason Giambi...

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    SAN FRANCISCO - SEPTEMBER 26:  Barry Bonds #25 of the San Francisco Giants flies out during his final home at bat as a Giant against the San Diego Padres during a Major League Baseball game on September 26, 2007 at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California.
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Perhaps one of the biggest scandals in recent sports history, steroids took the main stage with the hearings held by the U.S. Congress to investigate the use of anabolic steroids or PEDs (Performance-Enhancing Drugs) in Major League Baseball. 

    After the hearings, a report published by George J. Mitchell entitled "Report to the Commissioner of Baseball of an Independent Investigation into the Illegal Use of Steroids and Other Performance Enhancing Substances by Players in Major League Baseball," more commonly known as "The Mitchell Report," named hundreds of current and former Major League players that tested positive for steroids. 

    Steroids exist in every sport, but the decision of the U.S. Congress to become involved in the matter cemented the players' fate as cheaters and dishonest individuals.

38. Clint Bowyer's Illegal Car

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    Bowyer and his team were docked 150 points after his car failed an inspection after winning at New Hampshire. It was discovered that his car was just outside of the strict regulations NASCAR has for cars that actually race on the track. 

    His team would appeal the sanctions, but to no avail. Denny Hamlin would win the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, and Bowyer is still outraged. 

37. David Robinson, 1985 British Open

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    According to TMZ, the person in this photo is actually Donald Trump. 

    In 1985 at the British Open, a golfer by the name of David Robertson was caught placing his ball on the green closer to the cup than where it should have been. Robertson was picking up his ball while placing the marker on his putter instead of the spot, moving the marker closer to the cup.

    Robertson was fined a US equivalent of about $30k and banned from the Pro Tour for 30 years. Professional golf takes cheating so seriously that they've even made it impossible to find a photo of this!

36. Whitey Ford, Yankee Great and Cheater

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    "Ford used his wedding ring to cut the ball, or had catcher Elston Howard put a nice slice in it with a buckle on his shin guard. Ford also planted mud pies around the mound and used them to load the ball. He confessed that when pitching against the Dodgers in the 1963 World Series, 'I used enough mud to build a dam.' He also threw a 'gunk ball,' which combined a mixture of baby oil, turpentine, and resin. He kept the 'gunk' in a roll-on dispenser, which, the story goes, Yogi Berra once mistook for deodorant, gluing his arms to his sides in the process."

35. Danny Almonte and The “Age-Gate” Conspiracy

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    393788 03: Danny Almonte of the Rolando Paulino All-Stars Bronx Little League baseball team is presented with a key to the city by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani during a ceremony honoring the team August 28, 2001 in New York City. The team, which finished third
    Mario Tama/Getty Images

    The Little League World Series prides itself on young, clean competition with implications to the future. So in the 2001 LLWS, there was pandemonium when it was discovered a coach had falsified Danny Almonte's birth certificate, and that Almonte was pitching with puberty on his side.

    The 14-year-old could throw 70 mph, which is the equivalent of a 92 mph major league fastball. Almonte was mowing down the 12-year-olds he was pitching to, and it created an outcry for the integrity of the game when the story broke. 

    It turns out another team had hired a private investigator to discover the true age of Almonte. The story revealed the true nature of competition, even in the Little League World Series.

34. Brian Cushing's Rookie of The Year

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    While at USC, Brian Cushing excelled despite a poor body figure. Then suddenly, in 2009 with the Houston Texans, Cushing was noticeably more built, stronger and faster. Cushing won the Rookie of the Year Award after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. He was suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season, but some were outraged before the NFL took away the award.

    However, he basically won the award while the League knew he had cheated. The justice system of the NFL has been exposed, but no one seems to notice...

33. Shawn Merriman Leads League in Sacks, Steroid Injections

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    In 2005, Merriman won Defensive Rookie of the Year and has also led the league in sacks. He was handed a four game suspension in 2006 after testing positive for steroids in successive tests. Since coming off steroids, he hasn't been nearly as effective, showing the true effects steroids have on the body.

32. Alex

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    Texas Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez waits to bat  July 17, 2000 at Tropicana Field, St. Petersburgh, Florida. (Photo by A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
    A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Besides the obvious 'roiding, Alex Rodriguez was accused of tipping pitches to opponents in lopsided games. What makes this so disturbing is that teams in MLB play each other more than once, often three times in a series at least twice a season.

    Not to mention it is dishonest and betraying to teammates. Rodriguez is easily the target of media malice, but this one seems to be outrageous even for him.

31. John Calipari Violates Recruiting Rules

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    NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR - MARCH 23:  Head coach John Calipari of the Memphis Tigers reacts against the Mississippi State Bulldogs during the second round of the South Regional as part of the 2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Alltel Arena on March 23,
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    The 2008 Memphis Tigers had their entire season record wiped out after it was revealed the coach had rigged guard Derrick Rose's SATs and had the university pay for Rose's brother's travel expenses. 

    There is a nasty trend in college sports these days: Coaches knowing violating recruiting rules to take their teams to the top. Calipari is a great coach, but even he can fall victim to greed. 

30. Gaylord Perry: Spit Ball Specialist

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    Gaylord Perry is a Hall of Fame pitcher, regarded as one of he best pitchers in his era. He was intimidating, dominating and a cheater. It is well known that Perry frequently added Vaseline to his uniform under the bill of his cap, in his waistline or even under his sleeve in order to throw a "spit ball."

    Spit balls are outlawed in baseball due to the difficulty in controlling the destination of the pitch. 

    Perry played for the Giants, Indians, Rangers, Padres, Yankees, Braves, Mariners and Royals from 1962 until 1983. 

29. Ty Cobb Is A Jerk

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    Ty Cobb is widely considered in the realm of the great baseball players to ever step foot on a field. Years after his death, the Hall of Fame athlete still holds countless Major League records.

    However, the other side of the legend is the surly, hard-nosed and often low-brow play Cobb exhibited on a daily basis. He was known for cleating infielders, stealing signs and tripping base runners. Cobb had a lot to be angry for, having lost his father when his mother murdered him just before his rookie season, and enduring hazing during his rookie year while emotionally unstable.

    It's hard to put him on this list knowing what he was dealing with emotionally, but dirty play and tripping were the worst acts in baseball at the turn of the 20th century.

28. The CCNY Point Shaving Scandal

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    In 1951, it was discovered that the City College of New York basketball team had been shaving points in a gambling scandal that involved several other teams and over 30 players. It was one of the earliest reports of points shaving in college basketball.

    Somehow, it seems trivial compared to some of the reports in today's college sports.

27. Joe Niekro and The Emery Board

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    The term "knuckleball" could be considered the most inaccurate way to describe a pitch. In fact, it is a pitcher's sharp fingernails that dig into the ball that make a knuckleball dance.

    So in 1987, while Joe Niekro was pitching for the Minnesota Twins, it is somewhat believeable that Niekro would be using an emery board and sandpaper that fell out of his pocket to keep his nails sharp. However, it is far more likely that he was doctoring the ball to his advantage. 

    Niekro received a ten game suspension and a power sander in the mail from his brother Phil. 

26. Dora Ratjen and High (Voice) Jump

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    When looking at this photo, you may be asking "Is this dude's name Dora?" 

    In the 1936 Olympics, a man, whose name is actually Hermann, was convinced by the Hitler Youth to bind his genitals tightly to his body with the intention of competing against other women. He finished fourth in the high jump.

25. Kenny Rogers Puts His Signature on a Ball, But Not His Autograph

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    During the 2006 World Series, Kenny Rogers started Game 2 for the Detroit Tigers. While on the mound, cameras caught a weird substance on Rogers' pitching hand that was later explained as "dirt mixed with rosin."

    However, the St. Louis Cardinals accused him of cheating and coach Hal McRae claims the team collected five or six balls with deep scuff marks on them. It was clear he was cheating, but the Cardinals went on to win the World Series and all indiscretions were forgotten.

24. Brett Hull's

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    The Dallas Stars won the 1999 Stanley Cup over the Buffalo Sabres on a goal from Brett Hull. However, looking more closely at the replay, Hull's skate was in the goalie crease, which means he cannot score if he takes a shot with the puck outside the crease.

    The officials would allow the goal, saying Hull had possession of the puck before the shot and therefore had the ability to shoot. 

    To this day, the goal is referred to as "No Goal".

23. Ben Johnson's Steroid Use

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    In the Seoul Olympics of 1988, Canada's Ben Johnson won gold in the 100m sprint, only to have the medal stripped from him just three days later when it was revealed he was doping with the drug Stanozolol, an anabolic steroid.

    Recognize the name of the drug? If not, ask Barry Bonds how it works.

22. Park Se Hun Defeats Roy Jones, Jr.

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    During the Gold Medal match of the 1988 Olympics, Park Si Hun was getting dominated by Roy Jones, Jr. However, in a shocking 3-2 decision, Hun was handed the victory. 

    Later, German police files would reveal payoffs and bets that gave Hun the victory. The scandal led to an investigation of other questionable Olympic victories that made no sense.

    Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated

21. Sammy Sosa and Albert Belle Bat-Corking

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    Perhaps under the constant pressure of a big-money contract and a home runs race, Sammy Sosa was discovered as a cheater in yet another way after a single swing. When Sosa made contact with an inside fastball, his bat shattered into a bunch of pieces, exposing a cork lodged in the beginning of the barrel. 

    Sosa claimed it was a practice bat that accidentally got mixed into his game time rotation. Sosa was suspended and his already fleeting reputation was further tarnished.

    Another well-known power hitter in his day, Albert Belle had a bat taken away from him while with the Cleveland Indians during pregame by an umpire that suspected the bat of being corked. The umpire put the bat in his locker with the intention of examining it later. 

    The Indians knew the bat was corked and dispatched pitcher Jason Grimsley to the vents above the locker room to swap the bats. Grimsley dropped down from the vent and replaced the bat in the locker with a fake. The main problem: the bat belonged to teammate Paul Sorrento and his name was clearly legible on the bat.

    Belle was suspended for seven games, and of course the incident has "gate" at the end of it, being nicknamed the "bat gate" incident.

20. Bill Belichick and The Spy Gate Scandal

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    The New England Patriots head coach was caught caught taping New York Jets defensive signals and fined $500,000 and a first round draft pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. 

    The most ironic part of the matter? Belichick won the 2007 Coach of the Year Award. 

19. 1994 Arizona State Basketball Team

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    Steven Smith and other ASU players were involved in a scandal involving a local bookkeeper that bribed them to shave points, preventing them from overtaking the spread. 

    Benjamin Silman was sentenced to nearly four years in a federal prison after pleading guilty to fixing four Arizona State basketball games and accepting money from gamblers at the end of the 1994 season. 

    A total of $568,000 was wagered by professional sports handicappers on the approval of Silman.

18. Carl Lewis Steroids OK, Canada Enraged

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    HOLLYWOOD - NOVEMBER 02:  Athlete Carl Lewis poses in the portrait studio at the 2006 AFI FEST presented by Audi at the Arclight Hollywood November 2, 2006 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images for AFI)
    Mark Mainz/Getty Images

    "When USOC Anti-Doping chief Wade Exum's report came out in 2003, it exposed a systematic cheating in U.S. track and field: 19 athletes failed drug tests at the Olympic team trials, but officials covered up the results and allowed them to compete. Ironically, Carl Lewis was awarded the 1988 100-meter gold when Ben Johnson was stripped of his!"

17. Hansie Cronje, The Badboy of Cricket

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    23 Jan 1998:  Hansie Cronje of South Africa shows his disappointment after getting out for 29 in the First Final of the Carlton and United Breweries One-Day International Series at the MCG in Melbourne, Australia. South Africa beat Australia by 6 runs. \M
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Hansie Cronje was perhaps the most famous cricket player in the world in 1999 when it was revealed by police in the city of Dehlia, India that Cronje was caught on tape negotiating the throwing of matches for thousands of dollars. 

    According to the police, Cronje was giving information to a gambler before a match between India and his South Africa team.

    Cronje was served with a lifetime ban but died in a plane crash in June 2002 while fighting the ruling.

16. Floyd Landis Is No Lance Armstrong

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    After winning the 2006 Tour de France, Landis was embroiled in allegations of PED use. When finally going public and admitting to using steroids, Landis also accused Lance Armstrong of the same crimes.

    Landis is now synonymous with cheating in cycling, and Armstrong has built a legacy of perseverance from testicular cancer. We take a firm hold of our nuts in your honor, Lance.

15. Marie Reine Le Gougne Sells Out

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    "Although four other judges also placed Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze ahead of the crowd favorites Jamie Salé and David Pelletier in the free skating, Le Gougne was immediately singled out for suspicion by television commentators and other observers.

    When she returned to the officials' hotel after the competition, she was confronted in the lobby by Sally Stapleford, then the chair of the Technical Committee, who began to question her about her judging of the event. Le Gougne broke down in a tearful outburst that was witnessed by a number of other skating officials who happened to be present in the hotel lobby.

    She said that she had been pressured by the head of the French federation, Didier Gailhaguet, to put the Russians first as part of a deal to give the ice dancing gold to the French ice dance team. She repeated these statements in the judges' post-event review meeting the following day, but in the following days and weeks, she issued a number of contradictory statements and retractions.

    She later stated that she had truly believed the Russian pair deserved to win and had been pressured to say the Canadians were better. Both Le Gougne and Gailhaguet were eventually suspended from the sport for three years by the International Skating Union, which never made any serious investigation into the events."

14. Donald Crowhurst Sails To Infamy

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    Crowhurst, a British businessman, entered into the 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, a single-handed, round-the-world yacht race. What made his decision to enter the race so sensational was the reality that Crowhurst was an amateur sailor with no serious sailing experience. 

    As the race went on, Crowhurst used radio reports, claiming he was well ahead of the rest of the competition. In reality he had docked in the South Pacific with his boat well off course. 

    His motives were apparently to promote a handheld radio direction finder that he viewed as the savior to his failing business. However, the plan failed miserably, and Crowhurst couldn't save face. The real kicker? The actual leader of the race, Nigel Tetley, fearing he was too far behind, was forced to abandon ship, despite in reality being far ahead of the field.

    Crowhurst committed suicide due to grief over the event.

    Read more:

13. The 2000 Spanish Paralympics Team

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    See anything wrong with the guy in the front row on the far right? Look really hard. Then, when you get tired of looking, give up because there is nothing wrong with him.

    The 2000 Spain Paralympics team had 12 members, but only two of them were actually mentally disabled. They went on to win Gold, but it would be revealed by a Spanish journalist they were in fact completely normal.

    No formal testing was done to determine the disabilities of the players. Let the South Park and Ringer jokes begin. 

12. Stanisława Walasiewicz Is Polish For Stella Walsh

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    Stella Walsh represented Poland in the 1932 Summer Olympics, winning several Gold Medals after having won several sprinting trophies in the United States. 

    During her autopsy, it was revealed "she" possessed both XX and XY chromosomes, and had ambiguous male genitalia. 

    This one is an example of warped cheating, but qualifies because Walsh knew she had a biological advantage, but never revealed her secret.

11. Chinese Gymnasts Becoming Known For Cheating By Age

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    In 2000, China used an underaged girl in the Sydney Olympics, using a fake birth date and certificate to determine her age. Dong Fangxiao, this year, was stripped of her bronze medal along with her teammates, and the U.S. team was granted the medal.

    The 2008 Olympics are now under investigation for the same issue on behalf of China's girls' Olympic competitors.

10. Rosie Ruiz's Boston Marathon Shortcut

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    In 1980, Rosie Ruiz was the first woman to cross the finish line in the Boston Marathon. She was crowned with the laurel wreath, and lauded as the fastest woman in Boston. However, it was later discovered that Rosie had registered for the race, but hopped out of the bystander crowd and on to the course just a few hundred feet from the finish line.

9. Fred Lorz Hops a Ride, Wins a Race

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    In 1904, Fred Lorz was running in the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis. He finished a marathon in three hours and 13 minutes, far and away faster than any other competitor. He accomplished the feat by hitching a ride with a passing car for nearly 11 miles of the race. He had already posed for photos with then first daughter Alice Roosevelt before race officials discovered he had cheated.

    He received a lifetime ban which was lifted just a year later. He would win the Boston Marathon the next year.

8. Marion Jones Tests Positive For Looking Like a Man

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    INDIANAPOLIS - JUNE 23:  Marion Jones crosses the finish line to win the 100 meter dash final on day two of the AT&T USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Indiana University Track and Field Stadium on June 23, 2006 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    "She won five medals at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia but has since agreed to forfeit all medals and prizes dating back to September 2000 after admitting that she took performance-enhancing drugs."

    For an event that is supposed to be a competition of the world's elite athletes, there sure are a lot of elite cheaters.

7. Thierry Henry's Hand Ball

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    Thierry Henry's clear handball gave France the victory over Ireland in a 2009 World Cup qualifying match. Henry admitted shortly afterward that he handled the ball to aid in getting the ball to teammate William Gallas. The missed call signaled an outcry of rage for Ireland. Wouldn't want to be the referees heading to their cars after this one...

6. Antonio Margarito's Plaster of Paris

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    In 2009, Antonio Margarito's wraps were comfiscated by officials after a suspicious substance was found on moist pads inside his gloves. Shane Mosley's corner noticed Margarito's gloves had too much wrap, and called for the review.

    After the match, the substances were identified as "Plaster of Paris," a combination of elements that hardens when wet. Basically, it would have turned Margarito's gloves into blunt-force instruments. Margarito received a suspension and other matches came into question.

5. East German Olympic Female Swimmers '68-'80

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    It is believed over 10,000 German athletes were on doping programs for the Olympic Games from 1968 through the early 80s. The East German women's swim teams of the era became the poster children for doping and cheating in sports, as evident by their manish look from above the waist.

4. Tim Donaghy Shames His Name, and The NBA

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    6 Dec 2000:  Referee Tim Donaghy  stands on the court during the game between the New York Knicks and the Dallas Mavericks at the Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas. The Mavericks defeated the Knicks 94-85.   NOTE TO USER: It is expressly understood that the
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The former NBA referee intentionally blew calls from 2005-07 or made incorrect ones in order to win bets on the point spread of games. He was investigated by the FBI for the matter and was later convicted and sentenced to 15 months in prison. 

    His story shows the effect greed can have, not just on the players and coaches, but most importantly on the officials placed in pressure situations with big dollar figures thrown around. 

    In this case, it really was the refs.

3. Hand Of God

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    CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 02:  Argentina's head coach Diego Maradona speaks to the media during a press conference at Green Point Arena on July 2, 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    Diego Maradona "scored" perhaps the most controversial goal in soccer history at the 1986 World Cup quarterfinal between England and Argentina.

    With his left hand Maradona slapped the ball into the net, which looked like a header to referee Ali Bin Nasser. The goal gave Argentina the 2-1 victory. His quote following the game is infamous to this day, stating the goal was scored (translated): "A little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God."

    Argentina would go on to win the 1986 World Cup.

2. Evander Holyfield Is a Dish Best Served Cold To Mike Tyson

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    Evander Holyfield had already embarrassed Mike Tyson before, defeating him for the World Heavyweight Championship.

    So when Holyfield agreed to fight Tyson again, he should have shown up in knight's armor. The mentally unstable Tyson once again found himself outmatched and knew he wouldn't win.

    In an act of disgusting tactics, Tyson bit down on Holyfield's ear, removing a small chunk from the top of it. When the fight continued, Holyfield lost a portion of his other ear, and the fight was called off. 

    The result of the match would be an event cemented in boxing history, and a TV gig for the referee as Judge Mills Lane was born.

    "I'll allow it!"

1. Tonya Harding Orders Knee Wack on Nancy Kerrigan

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    The hardest part of the research for this slide was finding a photo of Tonya actually skating. Through all the images of her gaining weight, fighting in women's professional boxing and yes, there are nude photos, I went with the video instead.

    In 1994, Tonya and ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, conspired with Shawn Eckhardt and Shane Stant to attack Harding's skating competitor Nancy Kerrigan at a practice session, during the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

    The famous video can easily be found showing Kerrigan yelling "Why!?" repeatedly. The world of figure skating takes constant flack for its loose connection to sports, but it houses some of the worst cheaters in the history of competition.

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