While the Manti Te’o situation is the most bizarre story to come across the wires in a long time, it’s far from the first high-profile sports hoax. People have been doing things that make you say, “whaaaaaaaaaaaa” for longer than you think. Here are some of the biggest head-scratchers in history.
Her story is as complicated as her real name: Sanislawa Walasiewicz. She won the gold medal in the 100-meter dash in the 1932 Olympics and silver in the same event at the 1936 Games. As a woman. Let me stress this. She competed as a woman. However, after she was killed in an 1980 armed robbery in Cleveland, an autopsy revealed she also had male genitalia. The debate over her biological sex remains unresolved. Her medals still stand.
Golf is a gentlemen’s game that relies heavily on the honest of its players. This dude certainly took advantage of that fact. While playing in final qualifying for the 1985 Open, the Scottish schemer casually moved his ball much, much closer to the hole on the green multiple times. He was busted and banned 20 years by the PGA European Tour. Nice try, bud, but no.
While running the marathon in the 1904 Olympics, this guy decided to take an extreme shortcut. After running the first nine miles, Lorz hopped in a car for the next 11 miles and casually walked the final six. His victory was short-lived as he admitted cheating.
In its April 1985 edition, Sports Illustrated shared the fascinating story of Sidd Finch, an eccentric world traveler with a 168 mph fastball who had learned the art of pitching from Tibetan monks. It quickly became one of the most popular stories in the publication’s history. The only problem? It was all made up.
Seventy-six years after Lorz revolutionized the marathon-cheating game, this lady tried to scam her way into a Boston Marathon win. She simply began the race, dropped out, took the subway to a mile from the finish and ran the rest. Shockingly, she was exposed in a fraud. Even more amazingly, she pulled a similar stunt during the 1979 New York City race. Ballsy.
Competitive fishing is a high-stakes game. This dude skewed the odds in his favor by catching fish before events, tying them to stumps in the lake and tossing them in the boat when no one was looking. A savvy, yet extremely uncouth move.
Spanish Paralympian Basketball Team
The gold-medal winning basketball team at the 2000 Summer Paralympics in Sydney showed a lot of heart. They also weren’t, uh, disabled. That’s low.
This high school offensive lineman staged an elaborate hoax in which he led everyone to believe he was being recruited for big-time college football. He even held a press conference where he committed to California. That was news to California, which wasn’t recruiting him. Wah-wah.
The Mechanical Turk
Way back in the day, Wolfgang von Kempelen created a robotic chess player that could defeat human opponents. His rouse was exposed 50 years after his death when it was revealed the robot contained a human player inside of it. Old-school deception. Respect.