Most athletes who cheat at the Olympics at least have the good sense to do so in pursuit of victory. The smart ones also make a concerted effort to hide any wrongdoing.

Uh, maybe we should have tried to win. Pic: AP

Well, somebody needs to send the badminton community a few copies of “Cheating for Dummies”. Four doubles teams have been sensationally thrown out of the Games after blatantly trying to lose their matches last night, in an apparent effort to manipulate the quarter-final draw.

Employing a level of dry understatement that would make even the London locals proud, the Badminton World Federation charged all eight players involved with “not using one’s best efforts to win a match”.

The Norwegian referee who oversaw the farce was not so subtle. At times he could be seen gesticulating wildly, actively imploring the offending teams to play properly. Or at the very least, to pretend.

His pleas were flatly ignored. The poor bloke was forced to officiate two consecutive matches in which both sides were flagrantly attempting to lose, each world class player committing errors that would make even the rankest amateur blush.

Sadly, tanking isn’t as rare an occurrence in sport as many of us would like to believe. For the cynical, there is often much to be gained from a nicely timed loss.

These badminton players were after a favourable draw for the competition’s knockout rounds. In some sports, finishing lower on the table can lead to better draft picks or a nicer schedule for the following season.

In fact, the AFL was plunged into its annual tanking debate just three days ago when Carlton player Brock McLean suggested that his former side, the Melbourne Demons, had deliberately underperformed in the past to secure better draft picks.

You have to hope, for Melbourne’s sake, that the team actually was losing on purpose. There is nothing more embarrassing than being accused of trying to lose when in actual fact you are just really, really bad.

Tanking is undoubtedly the hardest kind of cheating to police. How do you prove that a team isn’t just rubbish, or that a player is not suffering from a regulation off day? You can’t take a urine sample to test for this sort of thing.

Most players who lose on purpose do not make it as incredibly obvious as the badminton women did last night. Luckily for the sport, nobody is likely to remember that badminton even exists until the next Olympics, let alone recall this scandal.

But constant speculation over tanking in a popular sport like the AFL will definitely damage the game’s reputation. It is only a matter of time before a really big revelation hits, and when it does, the fallout could be just as serious.

Most commented

50 comments

Show oldest | newest first

    • stephen says:

      08:17am | 02/08/12

      The Czech beach volley-ball team must have trained in the snow, and as this game is not team oriented I cannot see why all players have to hug and pat each other after each point.

    • Gregg says:

      09:00am | 02/08/12

      Two makes a team in case you cannot count past your nose stephen and then you probably know little about energising, support, exciting, encouragement and synergy.
      Hope you are not enjoying sport as you appear to wish to.

    • Kika says:

      11:38am | 02/08/12

      Teamwork?

    • HappyG says:

      12:53pm | 02/08/12

      And if the aforementioned beach volley ballers happen to be a couple of hot chicks we’re in bonus point territory. Note I am not talking about our two representatives….............ergh.

    • Chris L says:

      01:46pm | 02/08/12

      I’d enjoy watching the US volley-ball team hug and pat each other. Maybe they could even kiss.

    • Chris says:

      08:31am | 02/08/12

      My initial reaction to this was:  good - chuck them out and let someone who actually tries play for a medal.

      But then I thought more about it.

      In competition, as in war, there are multiple aspects.  There are the skirmishes, and there is the war.

      Sometimes you will sacrifice a loss in a skirmish if it means you get to win the war.

      These women were trying to place their teams in such a way that they had a greater opportunity to win an overall medal.  Yes - that meant they had to lose a match in order to achieve that placement.

      But isn’t what they did still playing to win?  They had their eyes on a larger victory than the immediate match.  That is a larger strategy.

      OK - it’s not in the spirit of the games (or sport generally) to try and lose any match.

      But ultimately they were after victory - they were just going about it in a more complicated way.

      C

    • Gregg says:

      09:07am | 02/08/12

      That is a good point Chris and even in the rowing there were commentators saying that it would do the Aussie pair good to be going through the repercharge because they might have been a bit short of match practice as they had faced injuries in recent months.
      Not that they were not likely trying to get straight through.

      And there’s also the Aussie lass Kim Crow, slaying them in the singles so far and yet because she is doubling up with the pairs and has a heap of races to get through to make both finals, it would be sensible to exert just enough energy in the lead ups to make the finals and so conserve yourself some.

      So yep, there’re all different kind of strategies that could be used in different circumstances.

    • Gratuitous Adviser says:

      09:17am | 02/08/12

      Chris - My thoughts exactly.  The mistake they made was that they were too obvious with their tanking.  They and others will not make the same mistake again because strategic tanking is inevitable and uncontrollable, particularly in professional sport.  I say, let them all do it, and then let the paying public make their own decision as only they can.

    • iansand says:

      09:34am | 02/08/12

      Or the swimmers who save themselves in the heats so they have more to give in the finals.  Or the rowers who do the same.  They are applauded for their strategy.

    • neil says:

      12:51pm | 02/08/12

      Exactly, how is this any different than a chess player sacrificing a pawn to manipulate his opponents position for a tactical advantage, or a Formula 1 team having an unsheduled pit stop to place their car in a clear part of the track? If it gives you a tactical advantage you should take the opportunity.

      The AFL’s issue is not about sportsmanship it is about betting revenue, punters are less likely to lose a bet if they know a team intends to throw the game.

    • Punters Pal says:

      02:16pm | 02/08/12

      The difference with rowing, swimming or F1 is quite obvious. They did not even appear to make an effort, were just jerking around. If you were a spectator and had managed to score one ticket on Olympic ticket lottery and turned up to see this, you would have been mightly p…d off. It is the equivalent of doing Sally Robbins. To be honest, I have been really surprised that they got kicked out, as the behind the scenes pressure from China and South Korea would have been enormous not to do it.  One thing IOC got right, in my opinion.

    • MarkS says:

      08:35am | 02/08/12

      Thrown out of the games for tanking. Correct action. Should throw Melbourne & Carlton out of the AFL for tanking.

    • Everyone does it says:

      09:05am | 02/08/12

      And Collingwood and West Coast, etc.

    • Rose says:

      08:44am | 02/08/12

      Tanking hasn’t destroyed the AFL so far, and everyone knows it has happened (or is 99% sure at least). Tanking in any sport is really bad form and organizers really should try and work it so there is no real benefit.
      The difference between AFL teams doing it and these Olympic teams is pretty simple, the AFL that tank are those already scraping the bottom of the barrel. They already suck and are just trying to make the best of a bad situation. These Olympic teams are meant to be the best in the world, fighting it out once every four years to win the Gold. These teams, some of the best in their sport, are just doing it to get an easy ride, not to salvage anything. London have paid an extraordinary amount to host the Games, spectators have travelled and paid the big bucks to see the best and see teams not trying. At least in the AFL you know you’ve gone to see the tail enders.
      Tanking in any sport is a low act, but more so when it’s at an event like the Olympics, supposedly the ultimate sporting carnival in the world!

    • dancan says:

      08:48am | 02/08/12

      This one incident has actually sparked my interest in badminton to a level never experienced.  I actually want to watch this ONE match, sure it may only be one match only, but still!

    • Macca says:

      09:00am | 02/08/12

      Props to the IOC or Badminton league or Boris Johnson or whoever it was that decided to discard these immoral idiots. One of the better moral stories out of the Olympics so far

    • Chris L says:

      01:51pm | 02/08/12

      ... and that moral is to not get caught when cheating.

    • Al says:

      02:42pm | 02/08/12

      Or to at least be less bloody obvious about it.

    • Paddy says:

      09:14am | 02/08/12

      Collingwood tanked and several years later won a flag….......West Coast and Adelaide tanked last year and both have very easy draws that will enable them to make finals….the list goes on and on.
      It will be swept under the carpet and nothing will be able to be proven as there is no evidence….....ah McLean you’ve done it again, opened your mouth on the back of a couple of games and a need for sanctification.

    • A Dose of Reality says:

      11:07am | 02/08/12

      Adelaide ‘tanked’ - are you serious?  Are you trolling, or just genuinely have no idea?

      Please lis the players obtained by the priority or #1 or #2 draft picks.  Actually, try to list any Crows player who has been taken at any pick lower than 10.

      If you want to comment on the game - it’d be good to know something!

    • StuieG says:

      11:30am | 02/08/12

      West coast tanked themselves to 4th spot last year, wow if only they had tried a little harder they should have finished top !?!?!

      Maybe you meant they tanked in 2010 when they lost their 4th last game by 5 points, 3rd last by 1 point, 2nd last by 16. They got whooped their last game by Geelong who where 2nd on the ladder. And all that tanking to get 4th pick in the draft, they choose one of the worst time in AFL history ( a new team coming in ) to tank, idiots ! smile

      Believe it or not I’m not an eagles supporter so I dont remember these last games of the season, I wouldn’t be surprised if they where blooding new players and resting any suspect veterans as they didn’t have anything to play for but to say they where tanking is probably a bit rich..

      C’arn the Suns.

    • Hamish says:

      03:42pm | 02/08/12

      StuieG West Coast tanked for sure. Collingwood also definitely tanked to get Pendles and Daisy. No doubt about it.

    • Paul says:

      09:26am | 02/08/12

      I feel sorry for the players actually. Why didn’t the organisers of the badminton, knowing that with pool matches there’s always a chance of dead-rubbers, see this coming?

    • Pete says:

      09:27am | 02/08/12

      Does anyone else remember the days when:

      - It was enough to give your best.
      - Despite giving your best, at times you would be beaten by someone who was better on the day.
      - It was normal to congratulate the person who beat you. Not go on about how you failed.
      - You competed at every match. Not throw the matches against the non threatening competitors so you can manipulate the finals draw and save yourself for the trophy matches.
      - Everyone was entitled to and encouraged to “have a go”.

      Olympics…......What do they stand for in the modern age and do they really send positive messages to our kids?

      I’m not so sure…..

    • Good Grief says:

      12:25pm | 02/08/12

      @Pete
      “What do they stand for in the modern age and do they really send positive messages to our kids”

      They stand for, “the result is not everything. IT’S THE ONLY THING”.

      In this day and age where winning and coming in second could mean the difference between a lifelong ticket to the high life and being completely forgotten, athletes are learning fast that being a good sport just doesn’t cut it for the effort you put in. When the golden ticket to the coveted chocolate factory is right infront of you, people are going to go to great lengths to ensure they have the best chances of claiming it.

    • Budz says:

      10:09am | 02/08/12

      Why on earth would you make a finals system where you are better off being ranked lower? Can anyone explain this to me?

    • Darren says:

      11:14am | 02/08/12

      The no 1 ranked team in the other pool had an unexpected loss. So none of these teams wanted to win their pool and face the top ranked team first up in the next (elimination) round.

    • Ian says:

      11:14am | 02/08/12

      If earlier results had gone to plan, the top teams would have been kept apart until the medal round. But one of the (top) Chinese teams had a surprise loss earlier in the tournament, which lowered their position on the ‘ladder’ and threw them off their expected path and (absent the tanking) into a knock-out game against the other Chinese team. The tanking was an attempt to ‘balance’ their compatriots’ earlier mistake. The other teams tanked in retaliation.

    • James1 says:

      11:25am | 02/08/12

      I think it is more about having certain other teams ranked higher.  By throwing a match and allowing yourself to rank lower, you allow another, perhaps less competitive team, to rank higher, thus potentially forcing other, perhaps more competitive teams, not to rank at all.  It is not so much about where your particular team ranks, but the teams which rank alongside it.

      Does that help?  I’m a bit sick today and I can’t tell if I make sense.

    • Ironside says:

      11:31am | 02/08/12

      What happened is that there was two chinese teams playing, both made it through to the quarter finals however if the team that tanked ended up winning that match they would have had to face the other chinese team in the quarter finals or the semi’s. By throwing the game they ensured their place in the draw would be such that there was no chance of meeting the other chinese team until the gold medal match. That way china (and I blame their officials who would have organised this rather than the players) would be sure to get both the gold and silver medal.

      I read an article yesterday that out of the last 99 tournaments these teams have played in that the chinese have only faced each other 20 times outside of a final. That implies that tanking is a part of their team plan.

    • TimB says:

      12:06pm | 02/08/12

      @ Ironside, exactly.

      There’s a discussion further up the page claiming that tanking in this case is a strategy for better advancement or whatever. And I suppose you could look at it that way. If the team you’re trying to avoid is truly a threat, you’re going to have to face them along the way somewhere.

      But when it’s done like it was in this case, to ensure *two* Chinese teams get to the final match in order to guarantee the gold…that’s really crossing the line of fair play as far as I’m concerned. And that’s the real issue here.

      As such, the first and major change they should make is to create and enforce a ‘one nation, one team’ rule. You don’t see multiple national teams in Hockey or Soccer or similar, so why here?

    • kitteh says:

      12:46pm | 02/08/12

      Thanks Ironside, that even makes sense to a sport-challenged individual like me!

      I have to wonder about the comments that this is just ‘strategy’. The Games are not just a competition; they are, to an extent, also a performance. Had I paid to watch those games I would have been justifiably angry.

    • Gerard says:

      08:03pm | 02/08/12

      @TimB

      “when it’s done like it was in this case, to ensure *two* Chinese teams get to the final match in order to guarantee the gold”

      But their tactics wouldn’t have ensured that there were two Chinese teams in the final. They were risking having both teams knocked out in order to have a chance of both teams being in the final.

    • NGS says:

      10:29am | 02/08/12

      It happens in all sports, just look at the tennis in these Olympics, both Sam and Bernard had hidden agendas, obviously, to lose in the first rounds, as did most of our swimmers. Just wish someone would tell the mens hockey, as they seem to be winning

    • Testfest says:

      11:15am | 02/08/12

      NGS,

      Hopefully they can keep up the winning form when they meet Germany… as they lost to the Germans (twice) in the pre-olympics warmup tournament.

    • Huonian says:

      11:37am | 02/08/12

      It’d be easy to fix tanking in the AFL.  Just do what the football leagues do overseas and relegate the bottom two clubs each year.  Relegating the bottom two means other clubs could be promoted to the AFL on merit.  That’d freshen up the competition which would be no bad thing.

    • Ironside says:

      12:03pm | 02/08/12

      Not a bad idea except that would require a national level tier 2 competition that provided quality teams for the replacements, that does not exist at the moment.

    • A Dose of Reality says:

      01:08pm | 02/08/12

      Huonian,

      You’d then end up with English problem - all the sponsorship, membership, money and interest is in the top 5 or so sides.  No-one else wins or has any real hope in challenging (as a general rule).

      Far better idea would be to introduce zones for development/recruitment for the first 4 or so players a club takes each year - so that a club lives or dies by it’s own efforts.

      Players not taken in those first 4 picks for each club can THEN apply for the draft (unless they want to wait for a year). 

      Priority picks or high draft picks for lower finishing sides can still be kept - but the advantage is not so great as to encourage tanking.

    • MarkS says:

      02:12pm | 02/08/12

      Just have a lottery for the draft order in those teams that missed out on finals.

      9th gets one ball, 10th two, etc.

      It is the certainly of getting the first pick that is the problem.

    • Al says:

      01:43pm | 03/08/12

      Can’t relegate anyone unless there’s enough depth to have a second tier competition. That depth doesnt really exist imo.

    • Kika says:

      11:41am | 02/08/12

      Yep - China wanted their girls in the Gold and Silver match, not competing against each other in the semis knocking one of each other out. Who trusts China?

    • Malcolm T says:

      11:46am | 02/08/12

      I think they should investigate Tony Abbott for tanking - or is that wanking?

    • Shane from Melbourne says:

      12:54pm | 02/08/12

      Don’t know, why don’t you ask your mum?

    • Shane From Melbourne says:

      03:36pm | 02/08/12

      @ SFM- Use someone else’s pseudonym please. Identity theft doesn’t turn me on and base insults at other people even less so…..

    • Chris L says:

      04:03pm | 02/08/12

      Don’t let it bother you Shane. I have an evil twin myself posting directionless dross and pointless insults (possibly the same person). SydneyGirl is having a similar experience and ATM has been talking about being impersonated for some time.

      Someone thinks we’re important enough to try to misrepresent us. It’s done wonders for my ego.

    • Punters Pal says:

      03:06pm | 02/08/12

      Melbourne Football club - why would anyone think they are tanking? Regardless of their draft picks they still seem to stuggle to win a game in best of times. Really hopeless bunch. Compare that to teams which seem to maintain year on year decent level of play - teams like Swans, Collingwood and Geelong.

    • AW says:

      08:35pm | 02/08/12

      Comparing tanking in the Olympics to possible tanking in the AFL is ridiculous and not really an appropriate comparison.
      For badminton, this incident can have serious repercussions for the whole sport! If this becomes something commonplace that is reported often enough they will pull Badminton from the Olympics and none of the competitors will have the opportunity to complete – it’s just selfish! This is essentially cheating, especially on China’s behalf. They thought that no one would notice how absolutely appallingly they were playing as a top ranked team and that as a result they would be in a position to win Silver and Gold.
      Not only is it terrible sportsmanship, what about the poor spectators that were given this game in the lottery and may have travelled to attend – they would certainly feel ripped off.
      A professional athlete should want to beat the best while they are playing at their best; you don’t become a real champion by cheating.

    • Al says:

      01:44pm | 03/08/12

      “A pro athlete should want to beat the best while they are playing at their best”. Nailed it! Winning is way better if you do it against the best.

    • Mike says:

      08:37pm | 02/08/12

      I am just wondering where all the Chinese bloggers and posters are who were saying about “how China were going to win these games”....yeah, with tactics like that, no wonder. 

      Where’s all the Pro-China defenders now on the blog ?  The silence is deafening, only drowned out by the righteous boos.

      Anyone from any country who cheats at the games, embarrass them nationally and send them home.  Simple, and that’ll learn ‘em (sic) smile

    • Al says:

      10:18pm | 02/08/12

      They’re tanking this argument.

 

Facebook Recommendations

Read all about it

Punch live

Up to the minute Twitter chatter

Recent posts

The latest and greatest

The Punch is moving house

The Punch is moving house

Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…

Will Pope Francis have the vision to tackle this?

Will Pope Francis have the vision to tackle this?

I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…

Advocating risk management is not “victim blaming”

Advocating risk management is not “victim blaming”

In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…

Nosebleed Section

choice ringside rantings

From: Hasbro, go straight to gaol, do not pass go

Tim says:

They should update other things in the game too. Instead of a get out of jail free card, they should have a Dodgy Lawyer card that not only gets you out of jail straight away but also gives you a fat payout in compensation for daring to arrest you in the first place. Instead of getting a hotel when you… [read more]

From: A guide to summer festivals especially if you wouldn’t go

Kel says:

If you want a festival for older people or for families alike, get amongst the respectable punters at Bluesfest. A truly amazing festival experience to be had of ALL AGES. And all the young "festivalgoers" usually write themselves off on the first night, only to never hear from them again the rest of… [read more]

Gentle jabs to the ribs

Superman needs saving

Superman needs saving

Can somebody please save Superman? He seems to be going through a bit of a crisis. Eighteen months ago,… Read more

28 comments

Newsletter

Read all about it

Sign up to the free News.com.au newsletter