The British public believe that football, horse racing and cycling are the most dishonest sports, with a new survey commissioned by Middlesex University London finding that around half believe fair play is compromised and cheating rife in those three sports.
Cycling, which has been in the headlines over the past year as much for the Lance Armstrong scandal as for Great Britain’s success at the Olympics plus Sir Bradley Wiggins’ Tour de France victory, was edged into third place with 47 per cent of people highlighting cheating as an issue.
The Armstrong case is of course just the biggest of a succession of doping cases that have attracted negative attention to the sport over the years.
Football, in Britain, at least, has not been the subject of a major betting or match fixing scandal in recent years. Major concerns have been raised about match-fixing elsewhere such as the Far East and Eastern Europe, but we suspect it’s also issues such as diving that lead to it topping the list with 50 per cent of people saying it suffered from lack of fair play or cheating.
Horse racing was second, at 49 per cent. The sport has been blighted by the fallout from the Godolphin doping scandal in recent weeks, although it is not known whether the survey was conducted prior to that breaking.
Other sports on the list, while recording much lower response levels than the top three, certainly aren’t blemish free; athletics and swimming have both had their own doping cases, and cricket has suffered from ball-tampering scandals as well as high-profile players being involved in match-fixing, something that has also afflicted snooker.
Rugby, meanwhile, despite periodically hitting the headlines for issues such as the Harlequins ‘bloodgate’ scandal, or instances of violent conduct on the field of play, comes in very low at 7 per cent.
Respondents to the survey, which was conducted by YouGov, were asked “Which, if any, of the following sports do you think has been negatively affected by a lack of fair play or cheating?”
Here are the responses:
Football – 50 per cent
Horse racing – 49 per cent
Cycling – 47 per cent
Cricket – 28 per cent
Athletics – 25 per cent
Boxing – 14 per cent
Snooker – 10 per cent
Rugby – 7 per cent
Swimming – 6 per cent
None of these – 6 per cent
The survey results were released this week ahead of Middlesex University London’s three-day Fairness Conference, which began yesterday and looks at issues of fairness in all walks of life, not just sport.
Speakers include Will Hutton, John Redwood MP, and Bianca Jagger, while Grant Cornwell MBE, Chief Executive Officer of the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation – which was recently nominated for a London Cycling Award – is addressing the issue of fairness in sport.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.