The 10 Commandments should also include “Thou shalt not cheat”. The Ninth Commandment “Thou shalt not give false testimony against your neighbour” is not as emphatic as saying “no cheating”. Not for financial or personal gain, better exam marks or victory in sport.
I was interested to find an article written in 2001 by The Observer’s Jon Henderson on his “10 greatest cheats in sporting history”. Notably not a single cricketer’s name was among the rogues who between 1901 to 1990 cheated their way to the top of their game before being unmasked.
He unearthed some remarkably inventive cheaters. A Ukrainian pentathlete who wired his sword so he could trigger the electronic scoring system with his hand and register a hit at will. A young Scottish golfer who moved his ball up to seven metres on the green when nobody was looking. And there was also a Belgian Tour de France cyclist who, under his jersey, had an elaborate plumbing system running from a rubber urine-filled bulb under his arm to the testing tube. All this palaver to avoid his own drug-contaminated urine to be tested. But he didn’t get away with it.
Henderson’s earliest cheater was Fred Lorz, winner of the 1901 marathon at the St Louis Olympic Games. Then word got out that he’d covered 24km as a passenger in a car. He claimed it was a practical joke but his lifetime ban was not funny.
The last cheater was jockey Sylvester Carmouche who, in 1990 surprised punters at Louisana’s Delta Downs Racetrack by finishing first on a 23-1 on a long-shot. A real pea-souper fog had hidden him from view when he’d dropped out of the mile-long race and re-joined the field as they came round again to win by a suspicious 24 lengths. Eventually he admitted his crime and was banned for 10 years.
Two famous cases involved well-known sportsmen: Argentina’s soccer captain Diego Maradona claimed in the quarter-finals of the 1986 World Cup that the hand which had miraculously guided the ball into the net was “partly the hand of Maradona…and partly the hand of God”. A still photo by a Mexican photographer showed that the only hand was that of Maradona.
Later in the game he scored a goal of unimpeachable brilliance as Argentina won 2-1 – and went on to win the World Cup.
In the 1988 Seoul Olympics, the Canadian Ben Johnson trimmed four-hundredths of a second off the world record to win the 100 metres. He hoped his record would last for years. Instead it was a couple of hours. The urine samples of the first four finishers were examined and Johnson’s contained stanozolol, a dangerous anabolic steroid.
He was stripped of his gold medal, served a two-year suspension and was later banned for life when he again tested positive.
Cheating, like crime, does not pay. At least not all the time.
Geoff Fox will be missed
Geoff Fox, whose retirement from the committee of Tokai Neighbourhood Crime Watch (TNCW) was announced at the recent AGM, will be missed.
During his 12 years he was known for making friendly visits to shocked homeowners who had been victims of crime, offering them both sympathy and practical advice.
We experienced this several years ago when thieves broke into the garage and stole a host of useful power tools.
On Geoff’s advice we went to report the theft at the Kirstenhof police station. Imagine our astonishment when on arrival there we found all the tools waiting to be claimed.
A sharp-eyed TNCW patroller had noticed a “clump of something” in the bushes opposite our house, found the tools and taken them to the cops. It was a happy ending to a nasty experience.
Caring for the bunnies
Good news about the early Easter Bunny which Janet Lindup found at her front gate. Although no owner came forward to claim the rabbit, it was taken away by a lovely girl from Noordhoek Bunny Rescue, an organisation that looks after lost and found bunnies. She assured Janet the runaway rabbit would be well cared for and go to a good home.
It’s amazing that there are so many lost rabbits that a local organisation finds it worthwhile to rescue them. Wish it had been around when we were kids as our lost rabbits usually ended up as corpses.
Dogs have great sense of smell
Last Tuesday we decided to be more adventurous and, instead of our usual 45-minute walk in Silvermine, to go all the way to the bench overlooking scenic Hout Bay. The paths were steep and the dogs were hot and very thirsty as we had not brought water for them. So after an hour’s slog, we turned back.
About half way down the slope, the dogs suddenly took off on their own. I rushed after them and could only catch a glimpse of one black Labrador tail followed by a yellow Labrador tail disappearing down a path clearly marked “No Dogs”. They had picked up the scent of water… lots and lots of lovely dam water and they were damned if they were going to ignore it.
Not content with just a good drink, they went for a long cooling swim across to the other side. Then hearing my whistle, they turned round and swam back to the side where they are not allowed because of the picnickers. Luckily there were no officials around to scold us, but I think they might have understood why two hot dogs took no notice of that sign. They can’t read but they have a wonderful sense of smell.
Sign outside a big department store: “No discounts for senior citizens. You have had twice as long to get the money.”