As long as athletic competition exists, so will the concept of using underhanded methods to gain an advantage. Cheating is sometimes taken for granted in sports, but serious accusations of it can damage reputations and careers. Cheating scandals can also damage the audience of a sport if fans start to believe what they're watching is not on the level.
Performance Enhancing Substances
The most prevalent kind of cheating as of 2011 is the use of performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids. Baseball media started calling the years between 2000 and 2008 the "Steroid Era" because so many players either admitted to, or were accused of, using steroids or human growth hormones. As a result, players with stats worthy of the Hall of Fame, most notably Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, were left off many ballots. Drug charges also stained the reputations of stars of many other sports from pro leagues to the Olympics.
Gambling and Bribes
Gambling jeopardizes the integrity of a sport since a participant could alter the outcome of a game. In 1919, eight members of the Chicago White Sox were accused throwing the World Series as part of a gambling fix. The players, including "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, were found innocent in court but were banned from the game for life. The "Black Sox" scandal was baseball's biggest gambling black mark until 1989. In 1985, Pete Rose set the major league record for hits while also serving as manager of the Cincinnati Reds. In 1989, a special report showed Rose had bet on baseball, including some games he managed. He got a lifetime ban. As of 2011, the all-time hits leader was still not eligible for the Hall of Fame. Pro basketball had its own scandal in July of 2007. Referee Tim Donaghy was investigated and then fired for his involvement in a gambling ring.
Cheating with Video
During the 2007 National Football League season, the New England Patriots, a perennial Super Bowl contender, were accused of taping the New York Jets sideline. It was later revealed they also recorded practices before the Super Bowl years earlier. Baseball teams have been accused of using video cameras to steal opposing teams' signs.
Cheating can also be as simple as sticking out a foot to trip an opposing player. It's also considered a cheat to steal signs or plays from an opponent. Equipment cheats are watched for in some sports like auto racing, while illegal moves, whether they are meant to be cheats or not, can get a player thrown out of some sporting events.