The Rundown

Top 10 sporting excuses

The Rundown

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Britain's top heavyweight boxer blamed an injury to the little toe on his right foot for his defeat at the weekend - and in doing so inspired us to round up the most far-fetched excuses in sport.

David Haye's broken toe

The English
boxer's miserable performance in the ring against Wladimir Klitschko left the
world of boxing disappointed - but Haye's excuse that his broken little toe had
stopped him landing punches turned that disappointment into anger and ridicule.

" I
broke my toe about three weeks ago. I didn't let anyone know that," Haye
said after the fight. "I've been giving it local anaesthetics in the
gym... that's why I stopped sparring. My Hayemaker wasn't there, I couldn't
push off my right foot to land that shot. It was really frustrating."

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Manchester United's grey shirts

Alex
Ferguson knew there was only one reason why his side went 3-0 down inside 45
minutes against Southampton back in April 1996 - and it wasn't lacklustre
defending.Instead,
the United boss blamed his side's grey shirts.

"The
manager just stormed in and said: 'Get that kit off, you're getting changed',"
Lee Sharpe explained after the match."Those
were the first words he said at half-time. I don't think he liked the shirt
anyway - our results had been poor whenever we wore it, and we certainly never
played in it again."

United went
on to lose the match 3-1, and never wore the grey shirts again.

Richard Gasquet's French kissing

In March
2009 the Frenchman tested positive for cocaine at the Miami Masters. Gasquet
pleaded his innocence, maintaining that the drug must have got into his system
via a waitress, whom he had spent the previous night kissing. The explanation
was initially greeted with derision, but Gasquet took the case to an
independent tribunal, which heard he "kissed her at least seven times,
each kiss lasting about five to 10 seconds". The 23-year-old also argued
successfully that - unknown to him - his companion was a regular drug user, and
subsequent forensic evidence sealed the deal. The two-year ban was reduced to
two months, and Gasquet is now back in competition.

Crystal Palace's sexy cheerleaders

The
Championship side pulled the plug on their cheerleaders, the Crystals, in the
Spring of 2011 after their saucy routines were deemed to be too distracting to
the players, with some fans likening them to "poledancers on grass".

Palace's form
did improve, albeit only slightly, after the draconian measure, and the club
eased to safety in a relatively comfortable 20th position - a lot better than
the previous season when they needed a result on the final day of the season against
Sheffield Wednesday.

Ukraine's frog chorus

The former Soviet
republic blamed their 4-0 defeat at the hands of Spain at the 2006 World Cup
not on an inability to defend, but on an army of frogs who apparently croaked
all night just outside the windows of the players' rooms at their hotel. The
noise apparently got so bad that the players even went outside to try and deal
with their tormentors.

"Because
of the frogs' croaking we hardly got a wink of sleep," said Valdislav
Vashchuk. "We all agreed we would take some sticks and go and hunt
them"

Ronnie O'Sullivan's streaker

The talented-but-tortured
snooker star was going along nicely at 8-4 in the final of the 1997 Masters against
Steve Davis when a streaker interrupted the match. The Rocket didn't win
another frame, and Davis won a 10-8 victory that O'Sullivan blamed squarely on
the knock to his concentration.

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Graeme Swann's late night kitten rescue mission

In the
summer of 2010 the England cricketer was picked up by the police at 3am, and
failed a breathalyser test. Amazingly, Swann claimed that he was driving over
the limit as he was on a late-night mission of mercy to buy screwdrivers from a
24hr supermarket so that he could rescue his pet kitten, Max, who was trapped
under the floorboards.

Swann was
cleared in February this year on a technicality over police procedure.

Lighton Ndefwayi's jockstrap and Musumba
Bwala's farts

The Zambian
tennis player was horrified when he lost to arch-rival Musumba Bwayla in a
local tournament - and absolutely let rip with an astonishing array of excuses in
his post-match interview.

"Bwayla
is a stupid man and a hopeless player. He has a huge nose and is cross-eyed.
Girls hate him. He beat me because my jockstrap was too tight and because when
he serves he farts, and that made me lose my concentration, for which I am
famous throughout Zambia."

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Dennis Mitchell's beer and sex bonanza

US sprinter
Mitchell tested positive in 1998 for an excessive level of testosterone. He
blamed the sky-high reading on his activities the previous night, when he said
he drunk five bottles of beer and had sex with his wife four times.

His defence
memorably claimed that, "it was her birthday, the lady deserved a
treat."

Amazingly,
the American authorities bought Mitchell's explanation, but the IAAF were less
indulgent. He was banned for two years. Mitchell later testified against his
former coach Trevor Graham in the infamous BALCO case. In an unrelated aside,
Mitchell shares his name with the US version of comic book tearaway Dennis the
Menace.

Adri van der Poel's pigeon pie

Cycling has
had more than its share of doping controversies, but excuses do not come more
outlandish than Dutchman Van der Poel's in 1983 after he who tested positive
for strychnine, which acts as a stimulant when used in small doses. He blamed
it on a pigeon pie served for Sunday lunch.

Little did
he know, Van der Poel explained, that the birds were his father-in-law's racing
pigeons which had been doped with strychnine. Van der Poel came back, won
several one-day classics and two Tour de France stages, and eventually retired
in 2000.

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