2 July 2021 | OPINION
Trans-women athletes are the latest battleground for the woke ideologues.
It is a test.
Will you show your obedience and virtue-signal? Or are you a transphobe and a Nazi? The choice is yours. Recently, a New Zealand trans weightlifter has been selected for the Olympic Games in Japan. A moment in Olympic history? Is it similar to Jesse Owens in Munich, 1936? Or the black power salute of Tommie Smith and John Carlos in 1968? Or maybe even Oscar Pistorius, who competed in the 2012 Games with artificial legs?
The Olympics may be the ultimate stage in world competition, but they have had their fair share of cheats. We are a complicated animal and, for some, cheating seems an acceptable path. We are all treading the line between what we want and what we know is right. The most common form of cheating is performance-enhancing drugs. Sometimes administered by the state as in the case of Russia, but usually by the athlete and their coaches. But not all Olympic cheats take drugs – some are old-fashioned. They cheat by rigging equipment.
In the 1976 Olympics, Boris Onishchenko entered as a three-time world champion for the Soviet Union. During a fencing match, the rival team protested that Onishchenko had registered a ‘hit’ without his sword actually touching his opponent. It was clear to see that Onishchenko’s sword was in the air when the ‘hit’ registered. Upon investigation, it was discovered the sword had been illegally modified. A switch had been added that, when pressed, registered a ‘hit’. Onischenko was ejected from the Games in disgrace.
The Paralympics are not exempt from cheating. In the 2000 Games, Spain was stripped of their intellectual disability basketball Gold medals. An undercover journalist revealed that most of the team had not undergone medical tests to ensure that they had a disability. It transpired that the required mental tests, which should show competitors have an IQ of no more than 75, were not conducted by the Spanish. It was also alleged that some Spanish participants in the table tennis, track and field, and swimming events were not disabled either, meaning that up to five medals had been won fraudulently. It was confirmed that 10 out of the 12 members of the basketball team were not disabled.
A good thing about the Paralympics is that it shows people are vulnerable to making poor choices, regardless of physical ability. ‘Boosting’ is a term used to describe a type of self-harm performed by athletes with a spinal cord injury. This can increase their blood pressure and enhance performance. It is done before or during an event. Techniques include over-tightening leg straps, electric shocks and even breaking toe bones.
The most famous cheat in my lifetime was Lance Armstrong. An American former professional road-racing cyclist who won the Tour de France seven consecutive times from 1999 to 2005. Armstrong was a sports icon. He had already beaten stage three testicular cancer a few years before he conquered the world of cycling. He was seen as a national hero and an example of what can be achieved with hard work and perseverance.
A doping investigation concluded that he had used performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career. He was also named as the ringleader of “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”. Eventually, he acknowledged his involvement. His reputation was destroyed. He was stripped of all his titles and given a lifetime ban from cycling and any other sport.
If you want to see professional athletes cheating today then just watch a game of football, especially Latin teams. They tumble over as if shot by a sniper, roll around in agony, then jump up and run the length of the pitch. It is all a performance to con the referee into awarding a foul.
The best example of this is Rivaldo, a world-class Brazilian player, in the 2002 World Cup. The game had briefly paused. A Turkish player angrily kicked the ball at Rivaldo who was waiting to take a corner. The ball hit Rivaldo on the knee. He hit the ground instantaneously, while holding his face. The Turkish player received a red card and was sent off the pitch. The con worked – Brazil won the game. The public outcry was huge, for it was captured on TV and the whole world saw it. Rivaldo was fined £4,300. He never apologised.
As an Englishman, I cannot talk about sporting cheats without mentioning Maradona and the ‘Hand Of God’ incident. In the 1986 World Cup, Maradona jumped into the air to head the ball. His arm rose above his head. The ball hit his arm and rolled into the net. Goal!!!!! No – of course not. It was an infringement of the rules. The game is called ‘football’ for a reason. Maradona did not acknowledge this infraction and celebrated his goal. In this particular incident, he had not intended to cheat, and it was not premeditated. But cheating it was. He later stated that the incident was the ‘Hand of God’ intervening in the game. He never apologised.
Why do people cheat? Is it for fortune and glory? ‘Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing’ – a common quote. At the highest echelons, the difference between first and second place is often millions of pounds and a significant amount of fame.
Psychologists can split athletes into two groups. Task-oriented athletes focused on hard work and self-development. Ego-oriented athletes focused on being better than everyone else. According to the Handbook of Sports Psychology, studies have shown that highly ego-oriented athletes have lower sportsmanship, more self-reported cheating and an endorsement of cheating.
Any notion that cheaters feel guilty after engaging in unethical behaviour is simply not true – it is the opposite. Cheaters usually report no negative emotion over their action, but can report positive emotion if successful. This is called a ‘cheater’s high’.
Is cheating worth it when the risk of getting caught is always present? In a BBC interview, Lance Armstrong said that if it was still 1995, he would “probably do it again”.
Now, let’s talk about men who think they are women and compete in female sports…