Cycling, football and horse racing plagued by cheating: UK survey

Nearly 50 percent say these sports negatively affected by lack of fair play

Nearly half the UK public polled in a recent survey say cycling is blighted by ‘a lack of fair play or cheating’. That’s according to a survey commissioned by Middlesex University London which ranked football and horse racing as more dishonest – but only just.

According to the YouGov survey of almost 1,750 UK adults, 47 per cent said there was a lack of fair play in cycling, which has been dogged by doping stories. The biggest of these has been the downfall of Lance Armstrong in autumn 2012, said by the US Anti Doping Agency to have been at the centre of the “most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen.”

Other major scandals involve the disqualification of Alberto Contador from winning the 2010 Tour de France after clenbuterol was found in his urine, and the Operacion Puerto trial in Spain. At the end of April this year, Eufemiano Fuentes, the dodgy Spanish doctor at the centre of the investigation was given a one year suspended prison sentence for offences linked to blood-doping numerous cyclists. It is believed he helped athletes from other sports cheat too.    

In the survey, football topped the league of sports with an honesty deficit. 50 percent said the game was beset by cheating. Horse racing polled 49 percent, perhaps spurred by recent revelations of widespread anaerobic steroid use at the Godolphin stables, one of the world’s biggest racing outfits.

Just six percent of the survey group said none of the nine sports were unaffected by dishonesty or cheating – the same proportion as swimming.

The survey coincides with the launch of the university’s Fairness Conference, which starts today.

Full results to the question: "Which, if any, of the following sports do you think has been negatively affected by a lack of fair play or cheating?"

·         Football - 50%

·         Horse racing - 49%

·         Cycling - 47%

·         Cricket - 28%

·         Athletics - 25%

·         Boxing - 14%

·         Snooker - 10%

·         Rugby - 7%

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