Drug War

Move Over Lance Armstrong! Here are 5 Great Sports Cheaters!

From Rosie Ruiz to Gaylord Perry to She-Male Shotputters, here's a quick list.


Cycling great Lance Armstrong, long suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs, is being stripped of his record seven consecutive Tour de France titles. The head of United States Anti-Doping Association (USADA), Travis Tygart, has told the press that Armstrong has refused to participate in further hearings on the case, which is taken as an admission of guilt that he used banned substances to win competitions.

From ESPN's account:

"It is a sad day for all of us who love sport and athletes," Tygart said. "It's a heartbreaking example of win at all costs overtaking the fair and safe option. There's no success in cheating to win."

For his part, Armstrong says the USADA doesn't have the power to take away his titles. More to the point, he denies cheating and points to a spotless record of passing all doping protocols during his riding career (the USADA's case apparently rests mostly on testimony from past teammates of Armstrong's).

The International Cycling Union (UCI), which oversees and certifies bike racing around the world, has said that it will wait to hear a detailed report from USADA "before deciding its next steps," setting up a possible jurisdictional fight between the two bodies.

As bureaucratic wheels—and the possibility of an Armstrong vindication—slowly move into action, Reason calls roll for past cheaters in the world of sports. This brief list isn't exhaustive, but it helps illustrate the lengths to which some athletes will go to earn top honors on the playing fields of their choice. Some of them used drugs, some of them used cars (!), and some of them used Vaseline (!!!). 

And some of them even got away with it.

NEXT: Surprisingly, Heartbreak Hill isn't so heartbreaking in a car…

5. Rosie Ruiz, 1980 Boston Marathon winner

Cuban-born Rosie Ruiz landed in America in 1962, part of the Castro-induced diaspora.

She ended up taking first place at the 1980 Boston Marathon in a record time that was a whopping 25 minutes faster than her clock speed at the 1979 New York Marathon. Then it quickly became clear she hadn't run the whole 26.2 miles (she would retroactively be kicked out of the New York Marathon, too).

Ruiz's secret? She only joined the race about a half-mile from the finish line, busting through a crowd of spectators as a pack of male runners pushed by. Her post-scandal highlights include busts for embezzlement and cocaine sales.

Among the legacies of Ruiz's fakery are RFID surveillance check points used to keep roadrunners on the up-and-up. According to Wikipedia, that Ruiz-inspired system snagged a bunch of charity runners called "Jean's Marines" in the 2005 D.C.-based Marine Corps Marathon. Gomer Pyle wept.

Related: The incredible story of Fred Lorz, who "won" the gold medal in the 1904 St. Louis Olympic marathon by hitching a ride for 11 miles and literally walking the final 6.2 miles.

NEXT: I spitball on your grave…

4. Gaylord Perry, Hall of Fame baseball pitcher

The win-loss record of Gaylord Perry—he went 314-265 in a 22-year major-league career—is impressive enough on its own. But even more impressive is the fact that in the thick of his career he published a book called Me & The Spitter: The candid Confessions of Baseball's Greatest Spitball Artist (or How I Got Away With It).

The spitball was banned by the bigs in 1920 and most outlaw practitioners of the dark art denied it all the way to the locker room, if not the grave. Those who didn't at least had the good grace to wait until retirement until blabbing (see Preacher Roe, the Dodgers hurler, whose 1955 confessional article, "The Outlawed Spitball Was My Money Pitch" appeared only he'd left the game).

Yet Perry's 1974 memoir rubbed his cheating in the face of league officials the same way he rubbed baseballs with tobacco juice, Vaseline, and whatever else he managed to stash in his jockstrap. As the must-visit site Carboard Gods notes, Perry only got caught tossing a spitter in a game in 1982, in his second-to-last appearance in big league baseball.

More incredible still, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991, a feat that should give hope to the Barry Bonds, Mark McGwires, and Sammy Sosas of the world that they too will eventually enter Horsehide Valhalla someday.

NEXT: Two sisters who were doing it for themselves. Except that they were probably brothers…

3. Tamara and Irina Press, Soviet Olympic Champions

The Press sisters were born in Ukraine in the later 1930s and rose to international track and field stardom in the 1960s. In the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Irina (on left in picture) won gold in the women's 80-meter hurdles and Tamara (right) took silver in the discus and gold in the shotput. In 1964, Irina snagged silver in the hurdles and gold in the first women's pentathlon, while Tamara took first place in both the shotput and discus. All told, the Presses set more than two dozen world records in various events.

In 1966, the European Championships introduced chromosonal testing as a means of checking the gender of competitors. The Soviets withdrew the Presses from that and all future international competitions, which was widely seen as an admission that the sisters were either brothers or the recipients of massive shots of hormone injections.

NEXT: Why Beavers no longer rule Manhattan…and college basketball

2. 1950-51 City College of New York point-shaving scandal

As hard as it is to believe now, there was a time when the City College of New York (now known as CUNY) was a college basketball powerhouse, along with other improbable juggernauts such as New York University, Manhattan College, Long Island University, and Bradley University. The CCNY Beavers won both the 1950 NCAA tournament and the 1950 NIT post-season tournament (at the time, a more prestigious title).

But in early 1951, a New York City district attorney arrested four players for shaving points at the behest of oddsmakers (three of whom were also arrested).

Ironically, the CCNY players didn't apparently throw games (as did some jocks at Long Island University), but their actions were nonetheless prohibited by law. CCNY, LIU, and some of the other schools de-emphasized their sports programs in the aftermath. Kentucky, which went on to win the 1951 title and was then under the direction of legendary coach Adolph Rupp, was suspended for the 1952-53 season.

NEXT: Shirley Babashoff, thou art avenged…

1. East Germany's 1976 Olympic Women's Swim Team

There's little question that the Olympics was a far more interesting—if disturbing—spectacle during the Cold War, when the Winter and especially Summer games functioned as a proxy for dueling political and economic systems. Despite some previous successes in international sports, the German Democratic Republic (GDR), a.k.a. East Germany, wasn't exactly a powerhouse. But in the 1976 games in Montreal, the communist country racked up medal after medal, especially in women's swimming, where GDR swimmers won an amazing 11 of 13 events.

The East German athletes and coaches chalked their success up to the moral and material superiority of a system that used scientific methods to identify, promote, and train athletes. American women swimmers, who had expected to grab baskets of gold, complained of unfair advantages ranging from then-illegal pay-to-train schemes to drug-and-hormone therapies. The Americans were widely dubbed sore losers as their only victory came in the 4×100 freestyle relay. One of the team's unofficial spokesmen, Shirley Babashoff, was even dubbed "Surly Shirley" (her mood turned even worse when the U.S.A boycotted the 1980 summer games, thereby killing her and her teammates' shot at a rematch).

Flash forward past the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disintegration of the GDR. As it happens, declassified Stasi files document the mass doping of East German athletes by coaches and trainers from about 1974 through the regime's collapse in 1989. The East Germans might not have been able to create a decent car or rock star, but they were indeed miles ahead of the free West when it came to the development and implementation of performance-enhancing drugs. "State plan theme 14-25" produced especially strong results in the pre- or near-pubescent girls on East Germany's swim team whose natural hormone levels—and confidence in an all-powerful state—were boosted big time. As one swimmer put it, "Drips, injections, pills, it was all normal (during training). Nothing strange about it and I wouldn't have known what to ask because I wasn't skeptical at all. I didn't start to look like a man overnight, it happened gradually. I wasn't really aware of it myself but it was obvious to everyone else. And whether I wore a dress or a skirt, make up or jewelry, it got worse and worse. They called me a transvestite or gay, and it shocked me."

Despite the revelations, the International Olympic Committee has chosen not to revisit results involving East German athletes.

Is your favorite proven or suspected cheater missing? Just the Olympics alone have got a ton! Talk 'em up in the comments below.

NEXT: Cory Booker Ponders Run for Governor

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  1. single page assholes.

    1. Yes! I made the same comment a couple of days ago.

      When I click on ‘view the article’ I want to see the article, not five more links.

      This isn’t Yahoo news you dumbfucks, it’s REASON.

    2. Agree. Come on Matt, Nick, you’re better than this.

    3. At least bring back the “single page” link- then you can still get two clicks, instead of just one.

  2. How can the “AMERICAN” anti-doping agency take away Tour-de-FRANCE titles anyway?

    It may be a safe assumption that many top athletes are cheating in some way, but shouldn’t there have to be some physical or chemical proof to overturn event results?

    1. They can’t, but they claim there is some kind of treaty or agreement that obligates the Tour to strip the titles.

      I gather the Tour is reviewing their options.

      1. Here’s a good breakdown of the charges and the evidence-


        Why does USADA get to strip Armstrong of Tour de France results?

        USADA and the UCI have long battled over who has the jurisdiction to investigate, charge, and sanction Armstrong. Both organizations are signatories to the World Anti-Doping Code, which since 2004 has governed and standardized testing and punishment. The code dictates that “in cases where no hearing occurs” (like this one), USADA must submit a “reasoned decision explaining the action taken.”

        The UCI is holding off, for now. From a statement released this morning:

        The UCI recognizes that USADA is reported as saying that it will strip Mr. Armstrong of all results from 1998 onwards in addition to imposing a lifetime ban from participating in any sport which recognizes the World Anti-Doping Code.


        As USADA has claimed jurisdiction in the case the UCI expects that it will issue a reasoned decision in accordance with Article 8.3 of the Code.

        Until such time as USADA delivers this decision the UCI has no further comment to make.”

        The UCI insists it maintains the sole right to strip Armstrong of his titles, but it seems unlikely the group will do anything but accept USADA’s “recommendations.” That’s how UCI handled the Floyd Landis case, the closest analogue to this one.

    2. How can the “AMERICAN” anti-doping agency take away Tour-de-FRANCE titles anyway?

      I don’t get it either. They’re not even a part of the government so wtf. Just ignore them.

      And Tulpa,

      Lance Armstrong never won any Tour de France races

      See how that fits the situation.

      1. That was meant for Fluffy, not Tulpa.

  3. …a feat that should give hope to the Barry Bonds, Mark McGwires, and Sammy Sosas of the world…

    There’s only one Barry Bonds, one Mark McGwire and one Sammy Sosa.

    1. Not strictly true.

      There’s also a white guy running around these days calling himself Sammy Sosa.

      (Sorry for linking to HuffPo, but it came up first in a Google search.)

  4. As a Doyers fan, I demand that Barry Bonds be added to this list post haste.

  5. Last page… oof! Sarcasmic would definitely NOT hit that.

  6. The East German doping is super fucked-up, because the athletes were given no choice, and many or most didn’t know what they were being given. And a lot of the former East German athletes are now really fucked up from the steroids they were given.

  7. Nick Gillespie, Reason’s go-to guy when it comes to rape and deceit.

  8. And CCNY is still called CCNY, although it is part of the CUNY system.

  9. Armstrong has refused to participate in further hearings on the case, which is taken as an admission of guilt that he used banned substances to win competitions.

    …or maybe he got sick and tired of their witch hunt and decided not to play along anymore.

    Who knows, maybe he did “cheat”. Maybe the fact that he’s never failed a drug test just means he’s a fucking evil genius of dopers. Or maybe, and I’m just throwing this out here, he passed all of those drug tests because he never used “performance enhancing substances”. Who the fuck knows, but at some point you’d think the USADA would move along. BTW, do our tax dollars support the USADA? I sure as hell hope not.

    1. “USADA is not a government entity, however the agency is mostly funded ($9 million) by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), with its remaining budget generated from contracts for anti-doping services with sport organizations, most notably the United States Olympic Committee.”

    2. This. I’m sorry, I don’t care how fine the anti-drug credentials somebody has may be, if you don’t have physical evidence in the form of failed tests, then you don’t have a goddamned case. If that means that Armstrong cheated and got away with it, so be it. Anything else is a witch hunt. From what I have read so far, Armstrong has put up with this for years. EVEN IF HE IS GUILTY, at some point the “wait, we have more hearsay evidence, we get to run you through the wringer on more time” has got to stop.

      Am I very exercised over the fate of an athlete? No. But this attitude of “we get to keep trying until we get the guy because we KNOW he’s guilty, even if we have no physical evidence” goes far beyond the field of athletic competition. It is rampant through the Drug War, it has ruined scores of lives in sex-abuse cases that were not merely wrong but absurd, and the accusers seldom face justice for putting innocent people through hell.

      1. Schofield gets exactly to the crux of the matter.

      2. Interestingly, the USADA’s own rules have an eight-year statute of limitations on this sort of shit. But that hasn’t stopped the USADA from trying to go after all Armstrong’s Tour wins, even though only the last one is still fair game.

        I don’t know or care whether Armstrong used PEDs. But the USADA makes a cruel mockery of the concept of due process; these clowns make Robespierre look like Learned Hand.

        1. You have an inherent misunderstanding of sports and their governing bodies. They are at best oligarchies and for the most part are dictatorships. It makes no sense to apply libertarian principles to anything a governing sports body does. Armstrong chose to compete under their rules, he is subject to their whims.

          1. “Armstrong chose to compete under their rules, he is subject to their whims.”

            Incorrect. The USADA didn’t even exist until 2000 when he won his second tour I believe. The USADA is also violating its own rules including it’s statute of limitations of 8 years. The USADA also doesn’t even administer the Tour de France and it’s jurisdiction over this race is highly debatable. Most importantly, Armstrong submitted to its drug testing rules and passed with flying colors.

            As a larger point, the decision of sports bodies to retroactively strip wins and titles without evidence that a competitor actually violated the rules of the game is completely bogus. A win is a win is a win. You can’t change reality on a whim. This applies to the routine attempts by the NCAA to rewrite history.

            So he is not subject to the whims of any and all sports bodies that retroactively decide to discipline him. He, and other fair-minded people, are free to disregard the bogus irrelevant decisions of these illegitimate sports bodies. Whatever some USADA nutjob proclaims doesn’t change reality – Armstrong lived up to the rules of the competition (according to available evidence) and won 7 Tour de Frances.

      3. You miss the crux of what brought this to a head. The entire USPS team that Lance rode with has been under extensive investigation. Some members did fail doping tests, or have described how they were able to circumvent testing techniques and confirmed later that they were doping. The problem for Armstrong is that his closest teammate and confidant George Hincapie who up until now has publicly backed Armstrong and is considered trustworthy is ready to testify that the team, including Armstrong, was doping as part of their training. And there are blood samples that the USADA has that do provide physical evidence of doping for Armstrong.

        1. “And there are blood samples that the USADA has that do provide physical evidence of doping for Armstrong.”

          Then the USADA needs to present this evidence or STFU.

      4. Lance Armstrong failed a test in Switzerland actually.

  10. Albert Pujols cheated the Angels by claiming to be in his early thirties, when he is probably in his mid-to-late-thirties.

    Just kidding, but that first month and a half he had this season must have had the Angels frantically searching for a way to void the contract.

  11. For the record, LIU and Bradley still compete in Division I athletics. Heck, a few years back Bradley even made it to the Sweet 16 in the men’s hoops tourney. (Full disclosure: my father is a Bradley alumnus.) Also, LIU has had some success in men’s basketball since the point shaving allegations.

  12. Lance Armstrong passed all the drug tests while he was in competition. The same rules were applied to him and everyone else at the time and he won. Now the USADA is going after just him, and most likely if he doped so did all his competition. So what meaning does it really have to take away his titles?

    I bet the vast majority of professional elite athletes enhance their performance in one way or another. Fact is, we pay top dollar to experience and associate with these extraordinary performances. Why the witch hunt? Let’s just get it out in the open.

    1. He failed a test after a race in Switzerland.

  13. The Lance thing is kinda bullshit but I always though he was an arrogant prick douchebag who abandoned his family and peddled for Texas government money for his cancer research so fuck him.

  14. Well NPR has jumped on the “Armstrong is guilty without a trial” witch hut.

    I am wondering why NPR would do that.

    Did Lance say he was a Republican or something? Is it simply because he lives in Texas?

  15. WTF?!?!

    no Black Sox?!?!

    I am calling bullshit…

    Either that or Nick is intentionally snubbing baseball hyper fan Matt Welch.

  16. Man its jsut too funyn when you think about it dude.


    1. Did someone spill a martini on anon-bot’s server?

  17. The insanity of this conclusion defies rational logic.

    If I refuse to defend myself against a claim that I am highly intelligent THAT proves that I am!!

    Are those people nuts? Yes they are!

  18. I’m really surprised that Nick Gillespie, of all people, would write an article such as this, putting Lance Armstrong in the same bucket with these other well-known cheats. “Move over Lance!” In the spirit of Libertarianism, we should be questioning a pseudo-government agency (USADA) that without any sort of due process can strip titles and ban someone for life, simply based on hearsay by a credit-less witness. Not to mention, the hundreds of thousands Lance has spent on Attorney fees and the millions he could lose if sponsors decide to go after him. Without a hearing and without physical evidence – the all powerful USADA has decided he’s guilty. Rather than a failed drug test, they can just form judgement based on the “I saw him do it” testimony of a former teammate who himself blamed a failed drug test on whiskey and later admitted to using EPO. Then there’s the USADA’s own eight year statue of limitations, which is being ignored. Oh, and did I mention that Lance has never failed a drug test. If this were in a court of law, this would never pass muster. This is like Hoover’s FBI here – prove you’re not a communist (INSERT DOPER HERE).

    I’m disappointed in you Nick!

    1. Ryan, read this, then get back to us.

      I agree with you that USADA is extremely high handed, and I wish that they would publicize their evidence if they’re going to try and strip LA of his victories. But there’s good evidence that the guy was at least using EPO when he was winning. Big deal, so was everyone else of note in the peloton. Still, I think USADA has more than just 10 (!) former riders’ say-so.

      Again, go look at the careers of Lance’s contemporaries: Riis, Pantani, Ullrich, Kloden. All of them have never pissed dirty in competition, and all of them have later been accused/admitted to doping. There just wasn’t a test for the doping they were doing in the late 90s.

      1. My point isn’t on whether he’s guilty or not. I actually think he’s guilty – keyword think. It’s that the USADA is able to go this far, after this long, with no physical evidence. And the fact that this is all behind closed doors. And the lack of consistency. EPO use was widespread in the 90’s because there was no good way to test for it. Do we strip the titles of everyone in that period because they didn’t have a way to test for it? Here’s a good article on the matter: http://www.humanevents.com/201…..-innocent/

    2. First of all, a sport governing body never has the slightest pretense of being “libertarian”. They are oligarchies and dictatorships. You can’t apply libertarian principles to it.

      Lance Armstrong has built his media empire and a significant personal fortune on the notion that he didn’t dope. In fact his image relies on the middle finger approach to the testing authorities and anyone who dares to suggest otherwise. I and any others considering his product have every right to question the basis for his claims, and there is reasonably credible evidence (both physical and testimony) to believe that he is selling something that is total BS. This quote is from one of his Nike Ads – ” “This is my body, and I can do whatever I want to it. I can push it. Study it. Tweak it. Listen to it. Everybody wants to know what I’m on. What am I on? I’m on my bike busting my ass six hours a day. What are you on?”

      So yeah, count me a little skeptical if everyone around him, including his teammates, have either been caught doping or later admitted to doping and are willing to testify against him. Maybe those millions of dollars he’s taking in to sell a false image are subject to more scrutiny than he’s been willing to put forth. Asking him to cooperate in the USADA investigation doesn’t seem like a lot to me for a guy who’s profited pretty handsomely on the idea his teammates are all wrong and he’s the only right guy in the room.

  19. “Armstrong has refused to participate in further hearings on the case, which is taken as an admission of guilt.”

    Really, nothing else needs to be said. The United States Anti-Doping Association (USADA) has just eliminated itself from all credibility.

  20. What I shake my head at are all the sports pundits who say that cycling is full of dopers, therefore anyone who dominated the sport must be doping. The implication being, they would believe Armstrong was clean if only he had not won so many titles. Also, that implies that there is no legitimate Tour de France champion, ever, as anyone who is performing well enough to must be on drugs and disqualified.

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