Monday, 31 August 2009


It has been a cracking year for journalism in the Daily Telegraph. Their MPs expenses scoop has been the story of the decade and the last couple of weeks has seen the sports team weigh in with the fascinating Bloodgate revelations.

This tale involves pre-meditated cheating by Harlequins RUFC in high profile rugby union matches, the unmasking of the villains and further revelations about a cover-up. It's great stuff, and perfectly tailored to the paper's readership which has a greater interest in rugby union than, say, readers of the Sun or Mirror.

Rugby union is, of course, no stranger to widespread deception on an organised scale. For decades the so-called amateur sport surreptitiously paid its leading players. It was often said that the only difference between union and the openly professional rugby league was that the league players paid income tax on their earnings.

More worryingly, the bloodgate scenario is part of a wider culture. The stakes are so high in top sport that cheating is sometimes too much of a temptation. The McLaren F1 team's attempt to deceive the authorities when Lewis Hamilton was overtaken under safety car conditions this season was another sign that integrity is not the thing it used to be. Now it has also emerged that the FIA are investigating suspicions that Renault ordered their driver Nelson Picquet to crash during the Singapore GP last year, knowing that the safety car would be deployed and that in turn would help their principal driver Fernando Alonso protect his lead - which it did.

Journalists must continue to expose this sort of action, whether writing about it in the Telegraph's print and online editions or using TV slomo replays to reveal footballers taking a dive.

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