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Research from Middlesex University London ties in with its Fairness Conference this week; swimming and rugby seen as squeaky clean

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.

22 comments

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fiftyacorn [89 posts] 4 years ago
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Im surprised tennis isnt listed

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Tonnio [37 posts] 4 years ago
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That's because the evidence got destroyed  39

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jova54 [676 posts] 4 years ago
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fiftyacorn wrote:

Im surprised tennis isnt listed

Tennis? What's that then?  4

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notfastenough [3727 posts] 4 years ago
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jova54 wrote:
fiftyacorn wrote:

Im surprised tennis isnt listed

Tennis? What's that then?  4

It's a sport that used to be won by the most agile and technically accomplished, until suddenly they all beefed up (even the women) and literally smashed their way to victory using such brute force as to require weird grunting sounds, maintaining this effort for hours.

It was in the same era that more scientific, controlled doping took off in cycling and athletics. Whatever that could mean, I have no idea...!

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Tom H [9 posts] 4 years ago
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Maybe I'm being cynical, but I strongly suspect doping is rife in all the sports listed. It is simply so easy to do, and I think correlated to the popularity of the sport and the earning potential. I can't believe rugby came so low to be honest, even at lower levels it's filled with teenage boys looking to get big, and is relatively untested. Perfect environment for steroid use.

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Cycle_Jim [264 posts] 4 years ago
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Snooker...doping in snooker...

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notfastenough [3727 posts] 4 years ago
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Someone was done for that not too long ago weren't they? Snooker player on amphetamines or something to improve focus over long periods.

Think Tom's right as well, there's plenty of doping going on with lads that want to be big.

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farrell [1946 posts] 4 years ago
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If I wanted to get my paws on some steroids I reckon a local rugby club would probably be my first point of call.

It'd probably be quite handy for picking up Class A gear at the same time.

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Tony Farrelly [2897 posts] 4 years ago
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Cycle_Jim wrote:

Snooker...doping in snooker...

Beta blockers

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themartincox [553 posts] 4 years ago
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I remember a sport science lecture many moons ago and we discussed the ethics of doping then (90's post Ben Johnson) and amongst a room of sport students we struggled to come to a consensus about the morality of it.

Where there is money there will be cheating, whether it be sport, politics or business - it's human nature to grasp.

Surely that was what the whole point of the Olympics though, to be the best at your sport naturally - in its own quaint way I can see the appeal of amateur sport only in the Olympics to take away some of the temptation that money brings!

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themartincox [553 posts] 4 years ago
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tony_farrelly wrote:
Cycle_Jim wrote:

Snooker...doping in snooker...

Beta blockers

good for darts as well!

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 4 years ago
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tony_farrelly wrote:
Cycle_Jim wrote:

Snooker...doping in snooker...

Beta blockers

Bill Werbeniuk claimed (and didn't get) a TUE for his Beta blockers. He said they were to counter the effects of the thirty pints of beer he drank each day. He also claimed (and didn't get) Tax relief on the beer, which he said he drank to counter a congenital tremor. Now that's what I call a sport!

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doc [167 posts] 4 years ago
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Then all the "squeaky clean amateurs" who win get to have a well paid professional career, so the temptation remains the same.
Interesting how public perception from a poll does not actually reflect the results anyone can read on the UKADA website.

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Tony Farrelly [2897 posts] 4 years ago
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themartincox wrote:
tony_farrelly wrote:
Cycle_Jim wrote:

Snooker...doping in snooker...

Beta blockers

good for darts as well!

and golf come to think of it…

isn't cycling the new golf?  39

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jijiandnoah [50 posts] 4 years ago
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The Rumpo Kid wrote:
tony_farrelly wrote:
Cycle_Jim wrote:

Snooker...doping in snooker...

Beta blockers

Bill Werbeniuk claimed (and didn't get) a TUE for his Beta blockers. He said they were to counter the effects of the thirty pints of beer he drank each day. He also claimed (and didn't get) Tax relief on the beer, which he said he drank to counter a congenital tremor. Now that's what I call a sport!

This guy sounds like a legend (although clearly a very self-destuctive one). Just looked him up on Wikipedia and found this:

"A memorable incident occurred during a televised World Championship Match against Dennis Taylor at the Crucible. Werbeniuk attempted to stretch across the table, but due to his size was having some difficulty. Eventually, the inevitable happened and he split his trousers. The ripping noise it made caused many in the audience, including his opponent, to laugh out loud. Werbeniuk took it in good humour, asking the audience "who did that?" as if insinuating that the noise was attributed to flatulence."

They don't make sport stars like that anymore

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jijiandnoah [50 posts] 4 years ago
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tony_farrelly wrote:
themartincox wrote:
tony_farrelly wrote:
Cycle_Jim wrote:

Snooker...doping in snooker...

Beta blockers

good for darts as well!

and golf come to think of it…

isn't cycling the new golf?  39

Actually there's a drug called Modafinil which is a cognitive enhancer used to treat narcolepsy. It has been trialed by the Royal College of Surgeons because it can cause massive improvements in problem solving, concentration and alertness and someone realised somewhere along the line that this was probably safer than having your surgeon loaded up with a litre of black coffee. It's unsuprisingly on the banned list - but a drug like that would give a real advantage in any of these sports...

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jamesfifield [110 posts] 4 years ago
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I am surprised that tennis isn't listed, but I think football in rightly in the top spot given the insinuations that crept out during the Puerto trial.
I too think that 7% for Rugby is very low. It seems like an environment ripe for both aerobic and power increases.

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jamesfifield [110 posts] 4 years ago
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jijiandnoah wrote:

there's a drug called Modafinil ... It has been trialed by the Royal College of Surgeons

and was also frequently asked for on prescription by guys and girls when I was at Oxford. Or bought off the internet. Apparently the results are scarily good.

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Nick T [1086 posts] 4 years ago
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Match fixing is spectacularly easy in snooker, just ask John Higgins.

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mattanthony [10 posts] 4 years ago
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Tennis? What about tennis? It may have had a bit of luck with the Spanish courts ordering evidence that would have put it in the headlines destroyed, but now even top ranking players are beginning to "call for action". Sides are being taken and it is only a matter of time.

Cycling is only seen as 'dirty' because the testing regime is so effective in catching dopers - albeit in some cases eventually - apply the same regime to other sports and you'll see that cheating is rife across the board.  13

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WolfieSmith [1381 posts] 4 years ago
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I still have Footie mates sneering at the idea of drugs in football but it's going to be big when it eventually breaks. The only reason it hasn't so far is that try to start the ball rolling as a football journalist and your career is imnediately over. The Kimmage effect x 10.

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Simon_MacMichael [2497 posts] 4 years ago
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Just running through the comments... doping, yes, but the concept of "cheating" goes well beyond that... from match-fixing in tennis and snooker, to the 'professional' foul or play-acting in football, to a London Scottish rugby player risking having his head yanked off his shoulders in the pic with the article.

Not clear from the info we have whether it was just the sports listed that were asked about... either they didn't ask people their opinion or tennis, or the response came in below 6 per cent and it wasn't listed; at a guess, the former.