Open main menu

Boris Onishchenko

Boris Grigoryevich Onishchenko (Russian and Ukrainian: Борис Григорьевич Онищенко; also transliterated as Onyshchenko, Onishenko, Onischenko; born 19 September 1937) is a former Soviet modern pentathlete who competed at the 1968, 1972 and 1976 Summer Olympics.[1] He was a multiple Olympic and world champion, but was disqualified for cheating at the 1976 Summer Olympics and banned for life from sports.[2]

Boris Onishchenko
Boris Onishchenko.jpg
Personal information
Full nameБорис Григорьевич Онищенко
Born (1937-09-19) 19 September 1937 (age 82)
Bereznyaky (now in Khorol Raion, Poltava Oblast), Ukrainian SSR
ResidenceKiev, Ukraine
Height178 cm (5 ft 10 in)
Weight74 kg (163 lb)
CountrySoviet Union
Event(s)Modern pentathlon

1976 OlympicsEdit

Having already earned his country an Olympic medal earlier in Mexico City and Munich, Onishchenko entered the event as a three-time world champion. 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 weapon, 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] Two months later it was reported he had been called before Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev for a personal scolding.[2]


  1. ^ "Boris Onishchenko".
  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 2016-08-16.