Audible sports audiobook of the month: Foul Play: The Dark Arts of Cheating in Sport (Mike Rowbottom)

March 4, 2014

In this monthly blog series, I review a sports audiobook from

We’re starting a bit late, so here’s February’s Sports Audiobook of the Month from

foul play sportsbook review audible

Foul Play: The Dark Arts of Cheating in Sport (Mike Rowbottom)

This was a great choice for the first in my audiobook review series. As a drug-tested athlete in a sport infamous for drug use, I’m drawn to research, theories and anecdotal chat about morals, ethics and boundaries in sport.

“Foul Play” is a factual, fascinating look at all sorts of misdemeanours throughout the history of sport. It begins by looking at doping, and this is the section I found most interesting. But there’s plenty more which will make your jaw drop. All manner of cheating, dodgy dealing and grey areas are recounted and explored.

Fixing. Betting. Sledging. Mind games. Time-wasting. Psychological tricks. Tampering with kit. Bending the rules.

Many questions are asked: what is out-and-out cheating and what is just a bit… wrong? And what of the grey areas in between? Do they differ by sport, by culture, by historical period? Why are certain things acceptable – expected, even – in some sports, yet intolerable in others? What motivates cheaters? And, when there’s nothing in it for them (no money, arguably little fame), why do they do it?

And it’s that question – why – which underpins the entire book.

“Foul Play” was written by Mike Rowbottom, a highly experienced journalist and sportswriter, and the writing is great. Despite the serious subject matter, I found myself laughing out loud (slightly awkward considering I listen to audio books whist walking the dog). Rowbottom writes with the pithy, punchy style of a newspaper columnist, and the style makes for a great listen.

Every sport imaginable is covered. In fact, I tried to keep track in order to pinpoint one which hadn’t been mentioned, but had to give up. The obvious ones – football/soccer, athletics, cycling – are there. But so are bowls, sailing, squash, gymnastics….

All the sporting scandals I can remember are dissected: Rugby Union’s Bloodgate, Lance Armstrong and Marion Jones’s falls from grace, the BALCO scandal in athletics. Rowbottom was behind the scenes in some capacity as many of them unraveled, so we get the inside story here.

But there are so many other stories, too, things I’d never heard before. Some shocking, some funny and some downright bizarre. I think my favourites were the tales about W.G. Grace.

I can highly recommend the “Foul Play” audiobook, whether you’re into sport or not. Ultimately, it’s an eye-opening exploration of human nature.

Let me know if you have a favourite sports book you’d like me to review, or if there’s a title in Audible’s library which you’ve had your eye on. is the UK’s leading provider of new and classic audiobooks and has a range of autobiographies, investigative journalism and sports training titles.

Foul Play: The Dark Arts of Cheating in Sport (Mike Rowbottom) is available only from

Audible asked me to write the reviews and provided me with free credits for the purpose.

Audible sports audiobook of the month: Foul Play: The Dark Arts of Cheating in Sport (Mike Rowbottom) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

%d bloggers like this: