Counting Down The Biggest Cheating Scandals In Sports History

“If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.” 

Cheating in sports happens more often than you’d think, but most of the time it occurs on a smaller scale. Medina Spirit, the 2021 Kentucky Derby winner, was found to have a positive test for unusually high amounts of betamethasone on Sunday, and it got us thinking about the biggest cheating scandals in sports history. 

The Daily Wire took a deep dive into the history of cheating in sports. Let’s see which infamous examples made the cut. 

The 1919 Black Sox

In perhaps the oldest and most famous example of cheating in sports, the heavily favored Chicago Black Sox lost to the Cincinnati Reds in the 1919 World Series. A year later, eight White Sox players were accused of purposely throwing the series by conspiring with gamblers. 

The eight players, including “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, were banned from baseball for life, though Jackson’s role in the scandal has long been disputed. Though the players were acquitted in 1921, their bans were upheld. 

Danny Almonte

Cheating in sports is not just for the professionals. In fact, it may be even more prevalent in youth sports. 

Almonte took the world by storm in 2001, leading his Bronx based Little League team to the Little League World Series. Almonte, a pitcher, dominated youth hitters in a way we’d never seen before. 

But there was a problem — he was three years older than he claimed, and was ineligible to be playing in little league. It came out later that Almonte was most likely the casualty of irresponsible parents leading him astray. 

David Handschuh/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Harding goes after Kerrigan 

There are few things more shameful than embarrassing your nation on the world stage. 

That’s just what happened at the 1994 Winter Olympics when the figure skating rivalry between Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan finally came to a brutal, violent head. 

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Kerrigan was attacked by a pipe wielding assailant in a crime later discovered to be orchestrated by Harding’s camp. Harding’s husband spent two years in prison for the attack while Harding continues to deny involvement to this day. 

Kerrigan was able to recover in time for the Olympic games and went on to win a silver medal. 


Rosie Ruiz

Setting a Boston Marathon record isn’t all that difficult when the subway does most of the work for you. 

Ruiz won the 1980 Boston Marathon in record time (2:31:56), shaving an impressive 25 minutes off her record 1979 New York Marathon time. 

The record run immediately drew skepticism and a freelance photographer came forward and claimed that she had been with Ruiz on the subway during the New York Marathon. It was later determined that Ruiz had waited a mile from the Boston Marathon finish line before joining the race. Ruiz was stripped of her title, but denied she ever cheated and the gold medal was never returned.

Via Getty Images

2000 Paralympic Spanish Basketball Team 

Cheating is always frowned upon, but cheating in the Paralympics? Disgraceful. 

The 2000 Spanish team won the gold medal in basketball for those with intellectual disabilities. The problem? A Spanish journalist came forward and exposed that the Spanish team had not checked its players for mental disabilities. After an investigation, it was found that 10 of the team’s 12 players were not mentally disabled and Spain was stripped of their gold medal. 

Houston Astros Sign-Stealing Scandal

From 2017 to 2018, the Astros were found to have been videotaping opposing catchers signs from beyond centerfield. The scheme was reportedly first discussed in 2016, and by 2017 was being used in games — a season in which the Astros went on to win the World Series.

It was found that Astros players would bang on trash cans to signal to the batter what pitch was about to be thrown. The Astros were outed in 2019 when former pitcher Mike Fiers told The Athletic they were using a video camera in the stands to film opposing catchers signs.

Though manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were eventually fired, no Astros players were punished.


The New England Patriots may have won six Super Bowl’s under head coach Bill Belichick, but at least one of them remains questionable to NFL fans the world over. 

The Patriots division rival, the New York Jets, accused the Pats of illegally filming their defensive coordinators’ signals during a game. The Patriots later admitted that they had in fact filmed the signals, but it was because of a “misinterpretation of the rules.” Belichick was fined $500,000 and the controversy only increased when it was discovered that the Patriots had illegally taped a St. Louis Rams practice in 2000. 

Tim Donaghy

Athletes cheating is one thing — it happens more than you’d think — but when a referee has money on the game he’s calling, the scandal goes to a new level. 

Donaghy, an NBA ref, was found to have gambled on games in which he was calling in the early 2000’s. If you were an NBA fan during the 2000’s, there were many games called by Donaghy that raised eyebrows. 

It was found that Donaghy was first involved in gambling on games in which he was a ref in 2003, more than four years and four seasons after he was caught by the league. 

We’ll never know how many games were impacted by the scandal, but the championship hopes of teams were certainty affected. 

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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