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  • 5 names and shames a few of those whose antics down the years make Thierry Henry appear almost angelic

Thierry Henry's handball antics for France in their World Cup play-off with Republic of Ireland have drawn widespread condemnation.

A man held in high regard throughout football circles has seen his name dragged through the gutter following one ill-advised moment of deception.

Henry has admitted that he breached the rules in order to help his side, further highlighting the win-at-all-costs mentality which exists in modern sport.

The prizes nowadays are so great that it appears anything goes in the pursuit of glory.

Bending, or snapping in some cases, the rules here and there has become par for the course, with the opinion seemingly that if you can get away with it, then why not do it.

Henry is, of course, not the first to smear the boundaries between right and wrong, with history littered with the names of those who took things a bit too far in order to come out on top.

The philosophies of the ancient Greeks - equality, fairness and honour - have long since died a death, with the modern age now dictated by money, greed and power.

Here takes a look at a few examples from across the sporting spectrum when certain individuals/teams took the law into their own hands and opted to play by their own rules.

Ben Johnson

Arguably the most famous case of cheating to grace the Olympics, Johnson swept to 100m glory at the 1988 Games in record-breaking time. A world-class field was ripped apart in 9.79 seconds, with runner-up, and heavy favourite, Carl Lewis finishing a good metre off the pace. Johnson was hailed as a Canadian national hero, for putting the USA to the sword and claiming the country's first gold medal. However, his moment in the sun was to be short lived as dark clouds soon began to roll in. It was revealed that Johnson had tested positive for a banned substance shortly after his success, with his trainer later admitting that anabolic steroids had been used to improve pace and power. He was subsequently stripped of his medal and record and handed a two-year ban. Johnson would never register on the world stage at such heights again.

Tonya Harding

Figure skating is not a sport often associated with the darker arts, but Harding brought it screaming into the public consciousness in 1994. Harding was expected to be among the challengers for a medal at the World Championships that year, but faced stiff competition from arch-rival Nancy Kerrigan. It is alleged that Harding sought to ensure that her chances of taking gold were greatly improved by taking Kerrigan out of the equation. Her ex-husband and body guard are said to have hired a man by the name of Shane Stant to strike Kerrigan on the knee, ruling her out of the event. With the plan executed perfectly, Harding duly took top honours. Harding later admitted to helping to cover up the attack, but avoided a suspension after threatening legal action against the USFSA and United States Olympic Committee, who wanted her ousted from the US team for the 1994 Winter Olympics.

Diego Maradona

Maradona, one of the greatest players ever to grace a football field, has seen his enduring legacy blighted by one moment of deceit at the 1986 World Cup. Argentina faced England in a highly-anticipated quarter-final clash in Mexico, with national pride at stake as much as a place in the last four. Maradona stole the show, with his memorable brace ensuring it would be Argentina who took the spoils. His second goal is widely regarded as a moment of pure genius from a man blessed with jaw-dropping ability, but his first is looked upon slightly less favourably. Somehow managing to beat the much taller Peter Shilton to a looping ball into the box, he flicked the ball over the on-rushing keeper and into the net. Surely something was amiss here? Indeed there was, with replays proving that Maradona had met the ball with his fist rather than his head. Maradona later dubbed his effort 'The Hand of God' and has steadfastly stood by his actions ever since.

Spanish paralympians

The 2000 Paralympics in Sydney were blighted by problems, with numerous positive drug tests undermining the event. It was, however, a team of athletes who claimed a gold medal who caused the biggest stir. The Spanish intellectually disabled basketball team swept all before them in Australia, taking the title in style. However, shortly after the games had finished, an undercover journalist, who had been a member of the victorious team, lifted the lid on the secrets behind their success. He revealed that a number of his team-mates had not been tested for a disability prior to the games and were in fact 'ringers'. The scandal rocked the sporting world and saw Spain forced to relinquish their medals.

Fred Lorz

The marathon at the 1904 Olympics in St Louis promised to provide a thorough physical examination of those involved. Sweltering temperatures made the task tricky enough, while a gruelling mountainous course would help to separate the best from the rest. In the end, only 14 of the 32 starters completed the race, with Lorz breaking the tape as first across the line. He would never see his medal, though, as it soon emerged that he had cheated his way to first place. It transpired that he had covered 11 miles, almost half of the course, as a car passenger. Lorz was handed a lifetime ban from the sport as a result of his misdemeanour, but this was later lifted.

Luis Resto

Resto was no mug in a boxing ring, with numerous Golden Glove Championship titles claimed during his amateur days. He also proved to be a more than capable professional fighter, earning a reputation as a high-level journeyman. Resto was, however, not expected to be a match for undefeated prospect Billy Collins Jr during their contest at Madison Square Garden in February 1977. Resto's trainer, though, had a plan up his sleeve, or rather in his gloves. He removed padding from each of the items in question, adding extra weight to Resto's punches. He was basically bare-knuckle fighting, resulting in Collins suffering a torn iris and permanently blurred vision - which would ultimately end his promising career. Resto and his trainer, Panama Lewis, were both found guilty of common assault, criminal possession of a weapon (Resto's hands) and conspiracy. Collins, meanwhile, died just months later after crashing his car into a bridge while intoxicated. Many believe he committed suicide after having his livelihood cruelly snatched away.

Michael Pollentier

After ascending Alpe d'Huez and winning the coveted yellow jersey in the 1978 Tour de France, Pollentier appeared to be on top of the world. It did not take long for him to be knocked off that perch, though, with a post-stage drugs test proving to be his undoing. He failed the medical examination in bizarre fashion, with a pre-race plan uncovered by race organisers. They found nothing illegal in the urine sample he gave, but discovered that it was not his urine being tested. Officials became suspicious when Pollentier "began pumping his elbow in and out as if playing a set of bagpipes". Ordered to lift his top and explain himself, it emerged that a complex plumbing system had been attached to his underarm allowing him to pump urine from a rubber bulb into the test tube.

Sylvester Carmouche

Fog can play havoc with any sport, with it difficult to do anything when you can't see past the end of your nose. It does, however, provide an ideal cover for those of a mischievous nature. Carmouche certainly fits that bill, with the jockey handed an eight-year ban from racing following his antics during a race at Louisiana's Delta Downs in January 1990. Carmouche aroused suspicion among the stewards when he romped home on 23-1 outsider Landing Officer by 24 lengths and just over a second outside of the course record time. Further investigation revealed that Carmouche had dropped out of the one-mile race as soon as he disappeared from view in the dense fog, only to rejoin it as the rest of the field came round for their second lap. He initially pleaded his innocence, but eventually admitted to what he had done and was forced to face the consequences.

Chicago White Sox

A rarity on our list in as much as the 1919 Chicago White Sox were not concerned about winning, they actually wanted to lose. Eight players on the White Sox's roster accepted bribes to throw the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. With $100,000 each on the table, the Sox duly slipped to a 5-3 defeat. Their plot was soon uncovered, though, and they were called in front of a grand jury. Many of the eight admitted to the plot, having been promised that they would be spared if they did. Unfortunately for them the jury changed their mind and subsequently banned those in question - including the legendary 'Shoeless' Joe Jackson.

Boris Onischenko

Having taken silver at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Onischenko was determined to go one better when the Games headed to Montreal four years later. Such was his desire to taste global glory he was prepared to go to any lengths in order to succeed. He therefore concocted a plan which would see him emerge victorious in the fencing section of the Modern Pentathlon. He wired a switch into his sword which allowed him to record an electronic 'hit' even when he missed. British pair Adrian Parker and Jim Fox later questioned the authenticity of Onischenko's victories and his weapon was replaced. He was eventually disqualified from the competition completely once his plan was revealed and fencing rules were changed to ensure that grips could no longer hide switches or wires.

Comments (12)

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Stephen Redmond says...

although he is one of the best F1 drivers and one of my favourite, I have to admit it looked like he he took out damon hill on the last race to win one of his championships

Posted 01:18 5th January 2010

Keith Morfett says...

There is one name missing from this list and that is Ronaldo. As a team, one of the biggest cheats in the history of any sport has to be the Argentinian football team for their 'performance' in the 1978 world cup. Had they been punished at the time then maybe they would have thought twice about their cheating in subsequent world cups but maybe its too engrained in their national character.

Posted 21:07 1st January 2010

Arshad Asmal says...

gavin tiffen i cant agree any more with you!! How could hamilton claw back 20 seconds in 5 corners!!! The real champion was Felipe Massa!!! I never liked mcclaren and they have always been bending rules. It wasnt a surprise too see them checking Ferraris documents because we all know Ferrari are the best and will always be!!! It all gave it away when i found out timo glock was his partner when they were younger and they are good friends!!

Posted 17:08 8th December 2009

Pete Ashton says...

David Jimenez. What part of Geoff Hurst's shot on goal constituted "one of the dirtiest tricks in the history of the beautiful game"? Granted it has been proved that the goal should not have been allowed, but that was an error of the referees.

Posted 11:57 21st November 2009

Gareth Roberts says...

It's pretty obvious to all sports fans that goal line/ penalty area television technology should be introduced into football. It's been a proven success in both rugby and cricket and would take away the unacceptable pressure that match officials are subjected to from players who have honed their cheating skills into a fine art the world over. How many times was the Henry incident repeated on TV immediately after the goal was scored? That would have allowed the ' TV Ref ample time to come up with the correct decision and justice would have been done and maybe Ireland would be on their way to the finals. Specific incidents that us older Welsh fans recollect are ; Andy Haden's theatrical dive out of a line out when Wales had the All Blacks on the rack at Cardiff Arms Park . Haden conned the ref who gave a penalty that won the game for New Zealand.Then there was Joe Jordan's handball incident that once again conned the ref into giving Scotland the penalty in a World Cup qualifier at Anfield.I sympathise with the Irish fans but we've all had to put up with it over the years - Maradona's 'hand of god?'

Posted 08:07 21st November 2009

David Jimenez says...

You are missing the biggest and most embarrasing cheat in sport history. Geoff Hurst goal against Germany must be one of the dirtiest tricks in the history of the beautiful game. English should know better than to criticise other countries when they should look not further than home.

Posted 22:57 20th November 2009

Liam Browne (Manchester United fan) says...

Remedios Antao: Since when is The Republic of IRELAND, British?... We are a country in Europe, not Brittan. Seriously. I have to say that I'm growing tired of all this stuff on Henry, he has been put in a very difficult position, which I think Wenger mentioned. That said, it shouldn't of happened. I'm just worried for the future of Irish football now. I can't see many decent players coming through the ranks and 4 years is a long time in football. What's done is done, A replay will never happen, Video refs will not be in place any time soon so I think as a Nation, we just have to move on from this.

Posted 17:39 20th November 2009

Andrew Neeson says...

Pat Kane, you certainly sound more American than Irish with that comment. Probably time to pop off back home and get some comfort food - maybe those fancy "freedom fries" we hear so much about. Grow up!

Posted 14:54 20th November 2009

Tom Wells says...

does anyone actually know how much fifa will be slated if france win the world cup next year? i hope that they get either england, brazil, spain or someone like that in their group and get knocked out in the groups

Posted 14:31 20th November 2009

Macdonald Onwuka says...

Life goes on, Henry is still a premiership legend and a football great, every big player has done one thing or the other that can be termed cheating in thier career. Football has the most imperfect rule of all the big sports i Know, so Ireland Football team, my sympathies to you, but then these thing happen and would definitely befall at least one team in the world cup. Take heart and please let Thierry Henry be. sh*** happens!!!

Posted 10:09 20th November 2009

Amber Naik says...

what don't you mention the McLaren's spygate in 2007 and renault's crashgate in 08 in formula 1?

Posted 10:02 20th November 2009

Chris Cunningham says...

Funny how there are no British sportsman on the list. Coveniently forgetting Linford Christies failed drug tests and Dwain Chambers to promote the notion that only foreigners do it!

Posted 09:25 20th November 2009

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