I think the idea that there was once a Golden Age of sportsmanship is a myth, born of ideals we heard about in our childhood when we were too young to question too closely. To an extent, I think there is a difference in that adults used to play along with the myth, in the same way - and for the same reasons - as they often play along with Santa Claus. But nowadays, with cameras and microphones everywhere, all the time, there's simply nowhere for bad behaviour to hide.

But it's always been there. At the Berlin Olympics in 1936, French cyclist Robert Charpentier apparently tugged on the shirt of his teammate Guy Lapebie, slowing him down enough to win the 100km race from him by 0.2 seconds. In Helsinki in 1952, Uruguay won the bronze medal in basketball by fouling virtually every player who took the field against them, including a full-on assault on at least one of the referees.

Muhammad Ali? Sure, he talked trash - but then, he was up against the likes of Sonny Liston and Ernie Terrell, who would certainly have given as good as they got but for the fact that they lacked his wit. Compare him with his contemporary Bobby Fisher, who was famous for being almost as surly in victory as he was ill-natured in defeat.

As for the supposedly gentle sport of cricket - well, that gave us episodes such as the infamous "bodyline" tour of 1932-33, and the "underarm" incident of 1981. Even W G Grace, probably the most famous cricketer who ever lived, was also famous in his day for "gamesmanship" and determination to win at all costs.