Give the cheats a chance

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It was an incredible shot that was deemed good enough to win the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.

But judges believe that the picture is a fake. They, and the five scientists they asked to check the image, say that the animal in the photo is a taxidermy specimen – an ex-anteater.

The photographer involved has denied that his picture was staged, but has been unable to provide snaps of the ‘night raider’ in a different position.

The competition is no stranger to controversy either. In 2009 judges disqualified a winning entry after deciding that the ‘wild’ Spanish wolf captured leaping over a gate was, in fact, a trained animal from a nearby zoo.

What lengths people will go to, eh?

Closer to home a chap in Guernsey tried to win a fishing competition a few years ago by stealing a bass from the aquarium in St Peter Port. His victory celebrations were cut short, however, after somebody recognised his ‘catch’ and caught him in the lie.

On a bigger stage we hear about some international athletes trying to give themselves an illicit edge at each Olympics through the use of drugs.

So here’s my thought: if a small minority are bound to try to cheat their way to the top, let’s give them their very own competitions.

I’d watch the heck out of ‘The Banned Substances Olympics’ where the use of any chemical compound was permitted. Imagine seeing a Russian hopped up on PCP (phencyclidine, also known as ‘rocket fuel’) throw his hammer out of the stadium. Imagine watching a Swedish pole vaulter on amphetamines getting a new personal best – without using a pole. And there could be a host of new events such as the 200m existential stroll for potheads, where the winner is the person who discovers new truths about the human condition. People would watch in their millions, surely.

This new setup needn’t be confined to sports competitions, either. We could invite wildlife photographers to compete in a special taxidermy contest in which they would be free to compose pictures using stuffed animals.

Cheaters’ art competitions could also work and would presumably be filled with knock-off Kandinskis, budget Botticellis and plagiarised Pissarros.

Let’s lump the cheats in together.

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