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Has the whistle been blown on sporting fair play?

September 21st, 2009
11:08 AM ET

Sporting scandals don’t come much bigger than that currently engulfing Formula 1 constructor Renault.

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/SPORT/09/11/motosport.renault.briatore.piquet/art.briatore.gi.jpg
caption=" Renault F1 boss Flavio Briatore has stepped down amid the scandal about race fixing in Singapore last year."]
Last week the French team said it would not dispute race-fixing allegations relating to the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, when driver Nelson Piquet Jr. crashed his car.

Piquet Jr alleged he was asked to crash by Renault F1 boss Flavio Briatore to help teammate Fernando Alonso win the race. On Wednesday Briatore and Pat Symonds, Renault F1 executive director of engineering, stepped down.

On Monday the FIA's World Motor Sport Council in Paris announced the team would get a two-year suspended ban, while Briatore has been banned from the sport indefinitely. Do you think the whistle has been blown on fair play in sport?

The French manufacturer is not the only sporting team facing controversy at the moment. The president of Athletics South Africa Leonard Chuene apologized last week after admitting he lied about gender tests for runner Caster Semenya.

Previously the national sports body denied it agreed to tests on the runner before the Berlin race at which she won a gold medal. South Africa's Mail & Guardian newspaper has revealed the team doctor asked Semenya be withdrawn from the event once the result of gender tests was known.

Meanwhile the world of rugby union has been hit by its own scandal - known as “Bloodgate” - when Tom Williams, a wing with English club Harlequins, was taken off due to a mouth injury faked with blood capsules. The maneuver allowed a tactical substitution to take place.

Williams was banned for four months, while the club’s director of rugby Dean Richards was hit by a three-year ban.

Is it ever acceptable to bend the rules in sport? Should athletes maintain the highest ethical standards – even when they’re losing?

Or is being economical with the truth simply a reflection of modern life - and should be treated as such? Shouldn’t sportsmen and women and their managers do everything possible to win, no matter the cost?

Tell us what you think and we will use some of your comments in the show.

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Filed under:  General
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. troppo

    Who Cares;;;;;

    Sport these days is about making money and having hooligans kill each other and vandalise as much property as possable.
    I gave up watching or caring long ago.

    September 21, 2009 at 11:55 am | Reply
  2. Magnus

    Sports has become a huge business, and clubs or teams as gone from being just that to stock companies where revenues and results count more than the sports itself.

    Of course this has taken many sports to higher levels than anyone could ever imagine, but has commercial brakes during NFL games anything to do with football. And is a football player really worth tens of millions for his talent alone, or commercial value?

    September 21, 2009 at 12:03 pm | Reply
  3. Graham

    As long as sport is a business people will cheat to earn more. If you really think about it, sport has lost a lot – pro athletes are very overpaid, many of them are spoiled brats and their contributition to society is really negilible. This too will pass and people who kick a ball, shoot a puck or run a rugby ball will someday earn what they deserve and that figure will be well below those who really earn their pay like doctors, nurses, teachers, truckers, farmers and miners just to name a few!

    September 21, 2009 at 12:18 pm | Reply
  4. Larry

    Everyone needs to start with the assumption "The rules are the rules are the rules." Sporting federations and referees need to assess fines and penalties designed to STOP and prevent the behavior, instead of merely a minor slap on the wrist. When an individual athlete making millions a year receive a $3K-$5K, even a $30K, fine - it is like pocket change. Make it a months worth of loss or as mentioned here – a three year ban. The recent debacle at tennis championships - let a top contender sit out a year or two for such disrespective and disruptive behavior. The over-blown salaries and an attitude that it is "a reflection of modern life" go hand in hand in making the situations ever worse and increasing!

    September 21, 2009 at 12:33 pm | Reply
  5. George E Burrows

    Sports is driven by the allmighty dollars. To overcome this to win at any price, the penalties need to be overwhelming. Crashing to allow teamates to win, steroid and/or drug use, attacking opposing players demand the "death" penalty. Ban anyone regardless of who they are, in any sport or athletic contest, for something like, life or at least 5 years. I know the bleeding hearts will say that is too severe but at least they won't repeat their actions and the penalty would serve notice to those who may attempt such acts in the future. I would make it that anyone even suspected of any such act be suspended immediately and until proven innocent. And if found guilty any activity they competed in, be immediately forefit, no appeal, no review. Fini.

    September 21, 2009 at 12:38 pm | Reply
  6. Steve Beyer

    I say Good Ole' Capitalism is alive and working well – If these Idiot 'Foamers' want to spend hundreds of dollars to see some game or athlete I say charge even more!

    September 21, 2009 at 12:44 pm | Reply
  7. Gautham

    Sports are simply the reflection of the state of morals.
    Innocent until proven guilty!!! Actually almost everyone is guilty it's simply a question of who gets caught.
    Look around, everybody is fighting for themselves and has no time others. No one care about how you win so long as you do...

    September 21, 2009 at 1:01 pm | Reply
  8. Andrew

    I have to like a quote attributed to the late Buck O'Neill, a great man and a better than average baseball player, by Joe Posnanski in his book about Buck. When asked about the steroids issue in baseball his simple reply was along the lines of, "everyone is looking for an edge."

    Sports are about competition, staying on top of your game and keeping your position in the rankings or the line-up–fighting all the time against the effects of age and the challenges of rising stars. Everyone wants an edge, whether you're an athlete, in business or arguing with your neighbor (or your wife). Fair play defines the rules, we all try to skirt or bend them until we bow out on our own terms or we get caught. The question is, how do we respond when we're caught. To hold up our hands and say 'I did it!' and now I'm willing to pay the price has proven much more acceptable than denying the fact I ever tried to get that edge ... Have the rules, enforce them as tightly as you can, punish the cheaters, but understand them for doing it and quit pretending you wouldn't look for your edge.

    September 21, 2009 at 1:12 pm | Reply
  9. Nina

    As long as FIA continue to be so lenient – there will be more cheating – and guess an unhappy driver will blow the whistle. Isnt that what Alonso did two years ago – I am surprised Alonso still has a job, but not Piquet – this is the end of Piquet's career. He did not do himself a favor. As Larry said, this is just a slap on the wrist for Renault – more teams will be encouraged to cheat, and guess more unhappy drivers will blow the whistle. Authorities wake up!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 21, 2009 at 1:18 pm | Reply
  10. Ben Trein

    We can all pretend to be very difficult about it, but it's very simple all together.
    There's nothing worth fighting for than power; there's nothing easier purchased than power, provided one has lots of money. And where can one get lots of money? Well, cheat. Cheat where? Anywhere: politics, sport, big business... You name it. Sport surely belongs in the list!
    Is it ever going to stop? Not as long as the rich wield power.

    September 21, 2009 at 1:21 pm | Reply
  11. W. Pedro

    Yes ... the whistle has been blown on fair play in sports... or in FIA regulated sports anyway.

    If the Renault verdict isn't proof of partisan judging by the FIA then I don't know what is. And if a body as rich, powerful and involved as the FIA can't be trusted, then who can (note that bit of sarcasm there)?

    Renault are escaping -what FIA claims is- the worst offense in sports where Renault endangered human lives to favor the outcome of a sporting event.

    Just as McLaren was held responsible for Spy-Gate and got to pay 100m$ for (plus getting excluded from the championship, thus losing all proceeds that would've been made constructors-points-wise), Renault should be held responsible TO THE FULLEST. Instead they're getting away with it ... totally.

    The FIA is setting a very dangerous but clear precedent ;
    Any company or person that owns or governs a sporting team can get away with cheating as long as they're not McLaren AND as long as they get rid of the offending team manager.

    I seriously doubt F1 will ever recover from this ... I also doubt Mr. Ari Vatanen could ever restore confidence in the FIA. That is ... if Mr. Max "I like 'm German" Mosley doesn't dictate that Jean Todt becomes president of that maffia run gang of billionaires.

    September 21, 2009 at 1:42 pm | Reply
  12. THOMAS K.


    September 21, 2009 at 2:20 pm | Reply
  13. Ketan Tirodkar

    The srie sof such incidents reminds of the muder of socer player of Morrocan team who hit a self-goal duering he world cup that was held in United States. To add colour to the ragedy, the mahch in question during hte self goal was hit was flanked by a police chanse of the soccer-superstar O.J.Simpson who had allegedlykilled his wife and had assured to surrender after meeting his mother. A plice chopper and a fleet of vehicles were trailing Simpson while he match was on. The Morrocan player was shot dead in the hotls very same evening.
    The cricket world has been marred by the controversies related to bettings with participation of the players, managers and coaches. To top all the eventsm Bob Woolmer,. former Autralian player, acting in capacity of coach of Pakistan cricrcket team was murdered in South Africa in a rage arising out of the betting rackets.
    We are degraded in all walks of life.

    September 21, 2009 at 2:21 pm | Reply
  14. liz

    I appreciate any whistle blowing in any sport. I abhor when something is found to be "fixed" – it leave a blemish on all the sport people in that particular activity whether innocent or guilty, and leaves a sour taste in the mouth of the fans.

    However, I think that tennis should be the next one investigated. There have been questionable calls and what seem to be rigged, or paid off matches in the last few years, things that dont make sense at all... Any takers?

    September 21, 2009 at 2:24 pm | Reply
  15. Uma joshua

    I d'ont think what FIA did to renualt especially banning Briatore from the sport indefinitly

    September 21, 2009 at 2:31 pm | Reply
  16. Uma joshua

    I d'ont like what the FIA did to Briatore it is not fair play

    September 21, 2009 at 2:35 pm | Reply
  17. D

    I didn't even watch the Olympics – because I'm fed up with the commercialization, drugs etc etc ... I am a bit of a hypocrite though because I still watch golf and darts and I did watch some of the special olympics

    September 21, 2009 at 2:42 pm | Reply
  18. paddock spy

    If an unscrupoles business man smells blood and no one stops him because there are no laws to stop him in his rampage he would be a fool to stop his orgy. Pilots are human beeings and yes they are over paid but that is not an excuse to humiliate them,The FIA should be run by persons with no conflict off interests and there should be a clear cut separation of powers, whats montezemolo doing on the board for example? either you are an agent, manager, contructor, sponsor etc etc but not all together!!!

    September 21, 2009 at 2:46 pm | Reply
  19. marco vinci

    race fixing and match cheating are totally unacceptable. sport first and foremost should be fun for those who compete and those who look on. Huge sums of money involved in sports, athletics, soccer, F1 et al, will eventually kill the very notion of sport. Is that a legacy we wish to hand down to our children? Shame on those who debase sports They may not survive them.
    Marco Vinci,

    September 21, 2009 at 4:00 pm | Reply
  20. Steve Russell

    I am a recent, yet avid, F1 fan. I really have enjoyed the sport. However, that Renault openly fixed a race, and got substantially less of a sanction than did McClaren (100 million for industrial sabotage), one wonders if the whole sport isn't fixed and scripted. I mean, look at how Button is coaxing out his lead and Rubens is slowly catching up. And, how Hamilton won the overall championship last year in the last turn of the last lap in the last race. WOW! Excitement...anxiety...crisis...eyeballs on the TV every Sunday...heroes!

    And if that's the case, I might as well watch Professional Wrestling.

    September 21, 2009 at 5:04 pm | Reply
  21. Steve Russell

    Oh, yeah, and those of us who live in Europe (and anywhere else that Renault sells their products) should voice our disgust with our wallets. Don't buy a Renault for a year; or, even 6 months will do the trick. This will send a message that FIA didn't have the substance to send.

    And, finally, to all the folks at the top of F1: what are we supposed to tell our children about fair play, not only in sports but also in life?

    September 21, 2009 at 5:17 pm | Reply

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