GOLFERS who just happen to “find” a lost ball and marathon runners who take shortcuts. LAWRENCE MONEY takes a look at the ugly “art” of cheating in sport:
I USED TO play golf occasionally with a bloke who would carry a golf ball into the rough if his shot went wide of the fairway. He made little attempt to hide the spare pill – it was visible in his half-closed fist – and of course, he never lost a ball. “Found it!” he’d call from the shrubbery after we had all given up the search and started to move on.
We’d shake our heads. Who’s he fooling? Only himself. My father-in-law, now in his 91st year, recalls the tragic day a fellow in his group cheated himself out of rare glory on a par three. The green was out of sight from the tee and when the group arrived, his ball was nowhere to be found. This bloke waded into some bushes and claimed to have found it — minutes before one of the players noticed his ball in the cup, He had hit a hole-in-one without realising. Not only did he lose any credit for the ace, he got suspended for cheating.
In my tennis days our group would occasionally include a former VFL footballer who was pretty handy with a racquet and even more adept at calling a shot “out” when it was clearly inside the line. It was awkward – did you call him out for cheating or just let it go and keep the peace. He would just smile if you challenged the call – and take the point anyhow. Karma got him eventually. I belted a forehand one day that caught him square in the knackers, folding him over like a deckchair. Unintentional of course, but the boys did shout me an ale on the quiet a few hours later.
Marathon running seems particularly prone to diddling. Case in point was Perth ultra-veteran Mark Robson who was accused of taking seven shortcuts during a race in Australind, WA, two months ago. Like a female marathoner in the US a year earlier, Robson was brought undone by technology. Competitors were required to wear a transponder during their eight laps of a 12.5km loop. Robson’s device recorded him passing the 6.25km turnaround point only once during his eight laps. Officials estimated he could have shaved around 30-40km by turning back early.
So Robson was disqualified, not the first time he had been sprung. According to The Australian newspaper, he had been suspended for two years by Triathlon Australia in 2014 after an investigation found he had “engaged in deliberate and premeditated actions to gain an unfair advantage” in several events between 2011 and 2013.
In the US 12 months earlier, runner Jane Seo took second prize in the Fort Lauderdale Half Marathon with an outstanding 1 hour and 21 minutes, an impressive pace of 6:15 per mile. However, she should never have posed for the victory photo. It clearly showed her Garmin Forerunner 235 wristwatch which a sharp-eyed observer blew up to reveal details of the run.
The watch verified Seo’s time of one hour 21 minutes but showed she had covered only 11.65 miles — nearly two miles short of the full race. Confronted, she fessed up and was disqualified.
Diddling the rules never ends well. The late “Slug” Jordon – VFL coach and State cricketer – missed playing Test cricket in India and South Africa in 1969-70 because of a questionable dismissal. In Ashley Mallett’s biography of Ian Chappell, Chappelli Speaks Out, he says Bill Lawry was considering selecting Jordon to keep wicket in one Test but Chappelli said he would not play in the side if Jordon was picked because the wicketkeeper was a cheat.
According to Chappelli, Indian batsman E.A. Prasanna had been given out after a ball appeared to hit the wicket – but it had actually rebounded off Jordon’s pads on to the stumps.
At the top level you rarely see such chicanery in golf. True to their canny nature, the Scots made sure that cheating at golf carries its own punishment, whether you are caught or not. Diddle a good round and your handicap goes down, making it even harder to score well the next time. Aye, it’s diabolical, laddie.
Lawrence Money has twice been named Victoria's best newspaper columnist by the Melbourne Press Club. He wrote columns for 37 years on the Melbourne Herald, Sunday Age and daily Age -- and in Royalauto and Your Sport magazines -- before retiring in 2016 after a 50-year career in journalism.
He still treads the speaking circuit, does radio gigs, tweets on @lozzacash and chases a long-gone 13 golf handicap. He clings to the eternal hope that the Melbourne Demons will once again win a flag.