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8 sporting events that conspiracy theorists think were rigged

Was it the one-armed man? Or the second shooter on the grassy knoll. We weigh up the facts.

THE MANNY PACQUIAO-Timothy Bradley decision brought conspiracy theorists out of the woodwork more than any sporting event in years.

And it’s easy to understand why — it was an inexplicable upset in a sport with a long history of shadiness. But it’s not just boxing that invites this sort of talk.

No matter how transparent or legitimate, every league has its myths. By our count, the Olympics is home to the most controversies.

But these aren’t far behind…

Manny Pacquiao losing a split-decision to Timothy Bradley (2012)

The conspiracy: The fight was fixed by Pacquiao’s promoter, Top Rank, to ensure that there would be a lucrative rematch in the fall.

The evidence: Pacquiao obliterated Bradley, with everyone in attendance except the judges agreeing that he won the fight. In addition, stats guru Ken Pomeroy wrote that the likelihood of three judges ruling in favor of Bradley was nearly zero.

But other than that, it’s mostly circumstantial speculation.

Shaq and Pat Riley celebrate. Pic: PA

The Miami Heat beating the Dallas Mavericks in the 2006 NBA Finals

The conspiracy: The Heat were handed the trophy by the referees, possibly because of some sort of anti-Mark Cuban bias.

The evidence: Dwyane Wade averaged 16 free throws per game by himself, Mark Cuban criticised officiating so heavily that he got fined $250,000, and in Game 5, Miami got 49 free throws to Dallas’ 25. Disgraced NBA ref Tim Donaghy even said the series was fishy, for what it’s worth.

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

Michael Phelps beats Milorad Cavic in a photo-finish in the butterfly at the 2008 Olympics

The conspiracy: Phelps lost, but was awarded gold so he could go after Mark Spitz’ record.

The evidence: Initially, it seemed like Cavic touched the wall first. But after exhaustive instant replay, it’s clear that Phelps’ final stroke inched-out Cavic by a finger-tip. Still, there are people out there who aren’t convinced.

The Knicks winning the No 1 pick in the 1985 NBA Draft

The conspiracy: The NBA rigged the lottery so the highly-touted Patrick Ewing would go to the Knicks with the No. 1 pick.

The evidence: The huge envelope that David Stern pulled out of the glass globe was apparently creased, leading some theorists to believe that the fix was in.

Muhammad Ali knocks out Sonny Liston with a ‘phantom punch’ (1965)

The conspiracy: Sonny Liston took a dive in his rematch against Muhammad Ali

The evidence: The punch that KO’d Liston two minutes into the first round didn’t seem to connect, and Ali himself didn’t realise he actually hit him. But as far as Liston diving as part of a gambling conspiracy, there’s no real evidence.

Roy Jones Jr. loses a split-decision to Park Si-Hun in the Olympics (1988)

The conspiracy: The judges handed the gold medal to the South Korean because they were bribed.

The evidence: An IOC investigation found that the judges were “wined and dined” by South Koreans officials before the fight, but they didn’t find outright bribery. Nevertheless, author Andrew Jennings alleges that the corruption was far more serious than wining and dining.

Three matches at the 2006 World Cup

The conspiracy: A Southeast Asian betting syndicate paid players in three matches to throw games at the World Cup in Germany (Italy v. Ghana, Ghana v. Brazil, and Ukraine v. Italy)

The evidence: Players admitted that they were approached by match fixers at the tournament. Journalist Declan Hill wrote a book about soccer corruption and claimed that a match-fixer told him Italy would beat Ghana by two goals in the opening game. They won 2-0.

The ‘Black Sox’ fixing the World Series (1919)

The conspiracy: Organised criminals paid eight Chicago White Sox players to throw the World Series.

The evidence: Players, gamblers, and gangsters admitted that it happened and were convicted by a grand jury. So there’s overwhelming evidence. But the one mystery is that Shoeless Joe Jackson — who was one of the eight players — actually hit .375 in the series and played well.

Get your dinner jacket on! It’s TheScore’s alternative Euro 2012 awards, part I

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