As many as 60 test takers looking to become elite rhythmic gymnastics judges have been implicated in a middle school-esque cheating scandal that included scribbling answers on hands and blatant copying, according to a new investigation.
Those looking to qualify as elite rhythmic gymnastics judges ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro took the official International Gymnastics Federation, or FIG, exams late last year in cities throughout Europe.
But a FIG analysis shows that dozens of test takers and exam proctors were involved in a cheating scandal that has already seen one top Olympic official expelled and six others suspended, including American Caroline Hunt, according to the New York Times.
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"This sport is very ill," longtime judge Erik Moers, who did not take the tests in question, told the Times. "It's poisoned from head to toe."
Evidence of the alleged cheating included suspiciously marked-up answer sheets, answers copied with the mistakes also transferred, and unexplained bonus points.
"Judging issues in rhythmic gymnastics are almost as prolific as doping issues in cycling," said Janine Murray of Australia, a rhythmic gymnast who competed in the 2012 Olympics and recently retired.
The tests will be offered again in the coming months in Frankfurt, Germany, where FIG officials will be on hand to monitor the environment firsthand, the Times said.
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Many of those who have been suspended plan on appealing the decision.
This isn't the first time a scandal has rocked the world of rhythmic gymnastics. After the 2000 European Championships in Zaragoza, Spain, the sport's governing body suspended six judges for discriminating against a Ukrainian gymnast.
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