But if you think this is the first case of sports espionage, think again. Here are seven, recent examples.
Getty ImagesJoe Robbins
The rumored LeBron/Dwayne Wade/Chris Bosh pact
It’s the great sports espionage story that’s impossible to prove, but lives in lore until this day: Did LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all conspire to team up, years before they eventually took their talents to South Beach?
It seems crazy, but where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire. Remember, all three were drafted in 2003 together and initially hit free agency in 2006. And rather than agreeing to a max five-year extension, they all chose three-year deals, allowing them to become free agents in 2010 (Carmelo Anthony chose the five-year deal instead) before eventually signing together. And if they did agree to team up years earlier, it would have definitely violated the league’s collusion bylaws.
Only a select few know if this actually happened. But it remains one of the great urban legends in NBA history.
Random NFL signings, where one team signs a free agent just days before they play his former team
It happens all the time, but remains nefarious: An NFL player gets cut from a team and that team’s next opponent immediately goes out and signs the player as a free agent. It’s the oldest trick in the NFL espionage book, and it's both brilliant and evil at the same time.
While there have been plenty of high-profile examples, the best quote we’ve seen on the subject may have come just a few weeks ago. After the Saints signed former Broncos safety Shiloh Keo just a few days before the two teams played in November, Denver special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis dropped this gem:
“I can tell you, Shiloh is singing like a canary,” Broncos special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis said Thursday at Dove Valley. “It just means they now know our system. He did it when he came here. We played Cincinnati and he gave us everything.”
If you can’t trust Shiloh Keo, who can you trust?
Chess master enlists Microsoft to protect his secrets
Maybe the greatest unknown piece of sports espionage also came last month, when chess master Magnus Carlsen enlisted the help of Microsoft to protect his secrets, leading into a big match with Russian Sergey Karjakin.
As a representative from Microsoft Norway said:
"The element of surprise is vitally important in chess. Therefore, it is critical that all communication during preparation and the finals is completely secure. Preparing for a World Championship demands a lot of work, analysis and strategic sparring – and a lot of computing power. The last few months before a match are filled with a lot of preparation and hard work; it is crucial that no data is lost or compromised."
It might sound a little crazy, but can you blame Carlsen for being protective? He was facing a guy who is known as “a darling” of Russian President Vladimir Putin. I can’t blame him one bit.
Tom Brady was suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season after allegedly conspiring with equipment managers to deflate footballs before the AFC Championship Game two years ago against the Colts.
This one was definitely controversial, and really needs no further explanation.
The date? 2007. The location? An NFL stadium, where the Patriots were caught stealing hand-signals from Jets defensive coaches.
The Patriots were found guilty, and led to some of the harshest punishment in NFL history. Bill Belichick was fined $500,000, the Patriots another $250,000 and lost a first round draft pick, for this evil act of espionage.
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Wake Forest and Louisville
Obviously this story will continue to unfold, but it will be interesting to see just how much Bobby Petrino knew. And if he did know what was going on, should he be fired for the ordeal?
And considering that the radio broadcaster Tommy Elrod has been leaking information since 2014, will any other schools be implicated?
Getty ImagesTyler Smith
St. Louis Cardinals breaking into the Houston Astros database
Back in 2013, Chris Correa, a former director of scouting for the St. Louis Cardinals, believed that Astros GM Jeff Luhnow – who previously had worked in St. Louis – had taken top secret information with him to Houston. So just to make sure nothing fishy was going on, Correa actually broke into the Astros’ database to check.