THROW OUT THE RECORD BOOKS?
It's time to stop pretending like this never happened, here's why
We all remember the iconic scene of Lance Armstrong crossing the finish line and counting off his victories, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7, at the Tour de France between 1999 and 2005. Now here's your trivia question:
Who won the Tour de France between 1999 and 2005?
After Armstrong was found guilty of using performance enhancing drugs, the International Cycling Union stripped Armstrong of his titles and decided that no winner of cycling's biggest race would be declared those years. Armstrong's achievements were erased from the record book and he was banned from cycling for life. His unprecedented seven consecutive Tour de France victories? Never happened.
Earlier this week, LSU announced that it was striking former star running back Derrius Guice from its football record books due to Guice's arrest on domestic violence charges last year. Those 3,074 rushing yards he gained over his career from 2015 to 2018? Those 29 touchdowns? That record-breaking 285-yard game against Texas A&M? Never happened.
Of course it happened, we saw Guice do it. And Lance Armstrong won seven Tour de France races, there are photos of him holding the trophy on the winner's podium.
And Milli Vanilli won the Grammy for Best New Artist in 1990, despite organizers taking back the award after discovering that, girl you know it's true, the two guys in Milli Vanilli didn't actually sing on their albums.
There's got to be a better way of punishing cheaters and scoundrels than pretending they didn't do what millions of people saw them do. Wishing something didn't happen won't make it go away. You might try, but there are some things you can't un-see, like Caddyshack II. Winston Churchill once said, "those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it." Or as Tweety Bird said it better, "I did! I did taw a putty tat!"
Reggie Bush was announced as the winner of the 2005 Heisman Trophy, symbolizing the best player in college football. But a list of official Heisman winners now says "2005 – vacated." Technically, Bush handed back the trophy before the Heisman Trust could demand he return it. Bush was charged with accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts during his football career at USC. The Heisman Trust decided not to award the trophy to the runner-up, UT quarterback Vince Young, who said he would have gladly accepted the award.
NCAA officials took away Louisville's 2013 men's basketball championship after investigators discovered that an assistant coach paid strippers to entertain players and recruits at a campus dorm party. A player admitted that he had sex with one of the dancers. The NCAA website still lists Louisville as the March Madness winner, but with an asterisk adding, "Louisville's participation in the 2013 tournament was later vacated by the Committee on Infractions."
The NCAA has wiped away several national titles after infractions were later discovered, including Howard men's soccer (1971), San Francisco men's soccer (1978), UTEP men's cross country (1983), Tulsa women's golf (1988), Syracuse men's lacrosse (1990), Arkansas men's track and field (1994-95), UCLA women's softball (1995), Hawaii men's volleyball (2002), Lewis University men's volleyball (2003), Florida State men's track and field (2007) and LSU women's track and field (2012).
NCAA's post-dated punishments aren't limited to bigtime athletic programs. Titles have been forfeited involving Division II and III schools, too: Cal Poly baseball (1989), Mississippi College football (2005), Saint Augustine men's track and field (2007), Armstrong State women's tennis (2015-16), Trenton State women's lacrosse (1992), Plattsburgh State men's hockey (1987), and Thomas More women's basketball (2015).
Sometimes the infractions seemed small, like a booster paying for housing for an injured player or a host family providing free meals to a player. The NCAA took away the University of Massachusetts' conference women's tennis title after the school paid players' phone bills totaling $252.
Sometimes the charges are whoppers, though, like schools using international students who played professional sports in their home country (Hawaii) and encouraging ineligible athletes to play under fake names (Tulsa).
More than 100 Penn State football wins during the Joe Paterno-era were stripped after assistant coach Jerry Sandusky's conviction on several charges relating to unlawful sexual contact with minors. Brian Cushing's second-team All-Pro honor was taken away because of a positive test for a banned substance in 2010. University of Michigan's basketball wins during the early '90s were stricken from the record books, and Final Four banners removed from Crisler Center, because "Fab Five" star Chris Webber took illegal money from a booster. The University of Massachusetts' Final Four appearance in 1996 and Memphis' Final Four appearance in 2008, both during John Calipari's tenure as coach, were removed from the record books because of cash payments to players.
Marion Jones (2000) and Ben Johnson (1984) had to return their Olympic gold medals after testing positive for banned substances. Dancer's Image was taken down as winner of the 1968 Kentucky Derby for a similar offense, although the horse didn't go to prison like Marion Jones did for lying to federal authorities.
Rosie Ruiz crossed the finish line first at the 1980 Boston Marathon but officials said, wait a minute, you took a shortcut, hand back that olive crown. Even Little League isn't immune from scandal. A team from The Bronx had to forfeit its 2001 third-place honor when hard-throwing star pitcher Danny Almonte was discovered to be 14, not 12 or younger as the rules say. The Jackie Robinson West team from Illinois was stripped of its 2014 U.S. title for recruiting players from outside its district.
All of the above happened, although now it appears they didn't.