Boris Onishchenko

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Boris Onishchenko
Personal information
Full name Борис Григорьевич Онищенко
Born (1937-09-19) 19 September 1937 (age 78)
Residence Kiev, Ukraine
Country Soviet Union
Event(s) modern pentathlete

Boris Onishchenko (Борис Григорьевич Онищенко; also transliterated as Onyshchenko, Onishenko, Onischenko; born 19 September 1937) is a former Ukrainian/Soviet modern pentathlete who competed in the 1968 Summer Olympics, in the 1972 Summer Olympics, and in the 1976 Summer Olympics.[1]

He was a member of the Soviet Union's modern pentathlon team in the 1976 Summer Olympics, infamous for being disqualified for cheating.[2]

1976 Modern Pentathlon[edit]

Having already earned his country an Olympic medal earlier in Mexico City and Munich, Onishchenko entered the event as a three-time world champion and a sportsman respected by his fellow Olympians. After the first event of the pentathlon, the Soviet team found itself in fourth place, trailing closely behind Britain. Fencing was the next event: a one-touch épée tournament. Onishchenko was considered the finest fencer among his competitors and was favored to win his matches.

During Onishchenko's bout with British team captain Jim Fox, the British team protested that Onishchenko's weapon had gone off without actually hitting anything.[3] The competition director seized Onischenko's weapon and brought it to the bout committee. The bout was allowed to continue, and despite using an unmodified sword, he still won by a large margin.

In electric épée fencing, a touch is registered on the scoring box when the tip of the weapon is depressed with a force of 750 grams, completing a circuit formed by the weapon, body cord, and box. It was found that Onischenko's épée had been illegally modified to include a switch that allowed him to close this circuit without actually depressing the tip of his weapon, so he could register a touch without making any contact on his opponent. Onischenko was ejected from the competition, which forced the Soviet Union to scratch from the team event. The British team that exposed Onishchenko went on to win the gold medal.[2]

Newspapers decried him as "Disonischenko" and "Boris the Cheat".[4] Onishchenko earned the enmity of other Soviet Olympic team members: for example, the USSR volleyball team members threatened to throw him out of the hotel's window if they met him.[5] He was escorted from the athletes' village by Soviet officials the night of his disqualification and reported to be "back in his home town of Kiev" the next day. Two months later it was reported he had been called before Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev for a personal scolding, and was dismissed from the Red Army, fined 5,000 rubles, and stripped of all his sporting honours. He was working as a taxi driver in Kiev.[2]


  1. ^ "Boris Onishchenko Olympic Results". Retrieved 2012-08-18. 
  2. ^ a b c Simon Burnton (March 14, 2012). "50 stunning Olympic moments No18: Boris Onischenko, GB wins gold". The Guardian. 
  3. ^ "History and Heroes from Every Olympic Games". The Sunday Times (UK) (Archive from 2001-06-29). Archived from the original on 2011-06-29. 
  4. ^ "The 10 greatest cheats in sporting history | Sport | The Observer". 2011-02-09. Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  5. ^ "10 Greatest Cheats in Sporting History". The Guardian (London).