My Take

Sportsmanship is no longer a sacred cow

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 July, 2013, 4:10am

The need to win at all costs is depriving many contests of real sportsmanship. With big prize money at stake, not to mention the prestige, it was not surprising some Englishmen decided to give short shrift to good old "gentleman's spirit" and decided winning was everything.

Now before English readers start slamming their fists and stomping the ground in anger, let it also be recorded that even the officials think some involved crossed the line and are contemplating action against them. Stuart Broad? Ashes? Cricket? Nah, the issue here is much more serious.

The 155-year-old Great Yorkshire Show, which took place last week, is a quaint celebration of English agricultural pursuits. The three-day event featured a wide variety of attractions, from cake baking to farm machinery. But the biggest draw is the cattle.

So the allegations are udderly shocking. For the first time in the history of the event, investigators have been called in after reports emerged that some eager owners may have juiced up their entries.

Rumours speak of using superglue on cow's udders to hide imperfections and add extra hair. There are even suspicions that udders were inflated with air and then teats sealed to make some cows carry more milk.

Experts used ultrasound to scan the udders of prize-winning cows and results are now expected in a couple of weeks.

The charges were not surprising as prize-winning cows are often sold for thousands of pounds, not to mention the prestige it brings to the owner in the local pub. So the temptation could have been there. Ask any Hong Kong racehorse owner and they will tell you.

But the Yorkshire organisers have grabbed the problem by its horns and warned that anyone found guilty will be kicked out and the prize money forfeited. "The industry is too precious to be undermined by cheats whose intention is to win at any cost," snorted one indignant organiser.

But the allegations have tainted the biggest agricultural show in the country.

"It's basically the equivalent of athletes doping; they're just doing it with cows," one expert told the media.

It just isn't cricket, one would agree.


Alex Lo is on leave