Major league baseball has dealt with cheating, most recently with steroid use and pitch stealing using video cameras. Football had deflate-gate when Tom Brady used footballs that were not properly inflated. Horse racing has seen its most famous trainer penalized for using steroids on the animals. The Olympics have more problems with PED than baseball, with Russia still banned from international competition. In professional cycling, some riders have been accused of using electric motors in their racing bikes.
It’s a scandalous list, but things in the wide world of sport and competition have gotten strange. This is not to say that fringe sports or competitions are weird, nor that cheating is new. But recent news media coverage has shared stories outside usual areas of competition — there are stories of cheating involving walleye fishing, chess and poker.
Two anglers were caught cheating at a fishing tournament on Lake Erie. Apparently, the fishermen gutted their fish and inserted little lead weights straight out of the tackle box. One video of the event that went viral showed a near riot after the judge announced that the fishermen augmented their catch with eight pounds of lead.
A chess champion cries foul
World No. 1 chess champion Magnus Carlsen kept his mouth shut after playing American rising star Hans Moke Niemann beat him at an event in September. The two subsequently met for a rematch, and Carlsen withdrew after a single move. He then voiced his concerns, citing over 100 questionable matches played online through the Chess.com platform used by champions and amateurs. Nieman already admitted privately to cheating when he was age 12 and 16, and he was banned for a time from competing. Still, he does not admit to it now, despite owning a winning record as a young player that surpasses the great Bobby Fischer at the same age.
It’s easy to cheat playing chess online, but Nieman also had a meteoric winning streak when playing opponents in person. Cheating is much harder in person, and no one seems to know how or even if Nieman is doing it. Still, Carlsen says that it was the fact that Nieman was not stressed or even seemingly fully engaged in playing the world champion in their face-to-face meetings is evidence that something was wrong.
Loser gets his money back
Cheating cards is as old as time, but poker player Robbi Jade Lew won a $269,000 pot while holding a mediocre hand of jack-high. His opponent was furious, despite no proof of cheating. Not admitting to deceit, Lew returned the money.
Unlikely outcomes and development are part of competition
While it seems that no competition is immune to cheating, it is worth noting that plenty of competitors out there who naturally or with the help of good coaching become much, much better in a short period. Training and physical development are part of it. A positive mindset and increased ability to deliver in the clutch moment are also important. These people may also be accused of cheating and need to refute those accusations forcefully to justify their hard work to get their spotlight-grabbing results.