Four major sports scandals have occurred in Australia, involving injections, horse dye, and a grubber. These incidents have been brought to light by journalist Jonathan Horn.
Australian sports have experienced both positive and negative moments, including scandals, incompetence, and strange occurrences. Here are four examples.
‘Deportation, Mr Djokovic’
It was a terrible timing for Novak Djokovic to prepare for his trip, open his Instagram account and declare his plans to go to Melbourne. In the beginning of 2022, the city was deeply divided due to the high number of Covid cases reaching tens of thousands. The residents of Melbourne were exhausted and a large fight erupted at a supermarket, resulting in one shopper being hit on the head with a saucepan. Amidst all this chaos, Novak appeared with his controversial views on vaccinations, incomplete documentation, and his impressive record of 20 grand slam wins and millions of dollars in tennis earnings. It seemed like he had no chance of success.
The ongoing drama surrounding medical exemptions, visa mistakes, and entry authorizations continued for an extended period of time. The smug face of the “No-Vax” individual appeared on the news every evening. His followers could be heard singing traditional Balkan songs outside of his hotel. His appeal for a visa became a chaotic spectacle. The live broadcast was plagued by frequent interruptions, inappropriate content, spam, and unauthorized recordings.
According to The Guardian’s Jonathan Liew, Djokovic approached the situation as he would a tennis match, with unwavering confidence in his superiority. He fought against his deportation as if it were a pivotal moment in the game, as if it were his final stand against complete oblivion. However, as Liew points out, difficulties arise when one begins to blur the clear lines of the tennis court with the complex realities of the world.
Essendon go the jab
According to Chip Le Grand’s book The Straight Dope, the Essendon supplements scandal was driven more by incompetence than malicious intent. However, this may be a generous assessment. The scandal involved a prime minister during an election year, the country’s most influential and defensive sporting organization, unfamiliar performance-enhancing drugs, concerns about organized crime involvement, a poorly funded anti-doping agency, a conceited AFL leader, sensationalized media coverage, controversial scientists, high-ranking government officials, skilled lawyers, human rights advocates, favored athletes, and various conspiracy theories and national pride.
The scandal required a scapegoat and the perfect target was found in James Hird, whose distressed appearance was plastered all over the media for months. The AFL tried to control the narrative, while Essendon responded with uninformative press releases and ineffective hashtags. People felt compelled to take extreme positions on the issue, resulting in some receiving awards and others losing their medals or leaving the sport altogether. The details of the scandal remain murky and Essendon’s reputation has been tarnished.
Fine Cotton has been substituted.
There have always been fraudulent horses in the sport of horse racing. In the 1970s, a man named Rick Renzella, who was described by journalist Andrew Rule as “a man with many stolen parts,” orchestrated a series of successful scams. Renzella realized that the key to pulling off these scams was to use horses that were similar in appearance. However, the attempted ring-in of Fine Cotton and Bold Personality was a complete disaster. The group involved in the scam consisted of dishonest and unreliable individuals who were not concerned with ethics. To make matters worse, Bold Personality was noticeably lighter and faster than Fine Cotton and had a distinct white mark on his forehead. Even after attempting to alter their appearances with dye and peroxide, the scam was still easily detectable. A moderately intelligent sixth grader could have come up with a more successful scheme.
The intriguing aspect of the Fine Cotton scandal is that it remained unexplained and unresolved. The Waterhouse family, although not directly involved in the scheme, were found to have prior knowledge of the switch. According to Rule, Bill Waterhouse was known as a deceitful and intimidating individual. After it was revealed that he and his son Robbie were aware of the ring-in, they were banned from all racetracks around the globe. However, the Sydney racing community is known for being forgiving and Robbie eventually returned to his bookmaking career. Bill Waterhouse himself remained unashamed and even wrote a book titled “What are the Odds?” before passing away in 2019. Robbie went on to marry Gai, whose horses achieved success worldwide, and their son Tom’s advertisements made up a significant portion of Australian television commercials.
The underarm incident
The young girl pulled on Greg Chappell’s sleeve. “You cheated!” she yelled. “You cheated!” Despite the terrible conditions of the MCG field and the sweltering 41C temperature, Chappell had managed to score 90 runs and bowl 10 overs. With only one ball left in the limited overs match against New Zealand and the series tied, the Australian captain sat at mid-off, feeling exhausted. The spectators, following the MCG’s two-drink limit and living in a time before the ozone layer was a concern, were having a great time. However, Chappell’s mind was in disarray as he desperately needed a break. In his later biography, he would coin the title “Fierce Focus”. But at that moment, his focus was solely on getting some rest and facing the formidable opponent who was approaching the crease.
Brian McKechnie was a versatile athlete, playing for both the New Zealand rugby league and rugby union teams. He was also a skilled batsman, known for his abilities as a fullback. Despite his size, Chappell believed that McKechnie had the potential to hit a six. In fact, he even asked his brother Trevor if he was capable of bowling underarm in order to prevent McKechnie from scoring.
This type of question could only be asked to a younger sibling. Trevor was not exceptional, but he made a good shot. McKechnie angrily threw his bat and chaos ensued. The prime minister of New Zealand condemned it as a cowardly act and believed it was fitting that the Australian team was wearing yellow. In the locker room, Mark Burgess threw his teacup against the wall in a display of anger typical of a New Zealander. Greg Chappell retreated to his hotel room, finally able to get a good night’s sleep after months of restlessness, and was met with boos when he returned to play at the SCG several days later. However, after scoring a game-winning 87, he received a standing ovation.