Cough’s the word: Bridge world champions found guilty of cheating

‘The German Doctors’ passed messages though a system of coded signals of coughs

The Bridge community knows them as “The German Doctors”, but they will forever more be known as the world champions that cheated – and coughed - their way to the top.

Michael Elinescu, 61, and Etscho Wladow, 71, two medical doctors from Germany, have been found guilty of cheating at the game’s world championships in Bali last September, where they both walked away with gold medals.

The pair were found out after a lengthy investigation involving computer analysis of a video recording of their final game, in which they won their gold medals, The Telegraph has reported.

In a case that resembles the “Coughing Major”, the man who used a system of coughs to win the top prize on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”, the investigation found the two doctors had constructed a series of coughing codes to signal to each other which cards they held.

The World Bridge Foundation (WBF) found the pair “guilty of reprehensible conduct” at a two-day hearing in Dallas, Texas, and have been banned from playing together at one of the body’s tournaments for life.

In addition, they have been banned from playing separately for 10 years.

The investigation was sparked by a complaint from the German players’ American opponents. One of the US players became suspicious of their actions at the d’Orsi World Senior Bowl, which remains the biggest event in the bridge world.

Eddie World started noting down each time one of his German opponents coughed, and which cards he believed these signals corresponded with.

This information was then passed to Max Bavin, the English chief referee, who authorised the secret monitoring and video surveillance of the game as it developed.

The system that Elinescu and Wladow were discovered to be using involved two areas: one that indicated if they had fewer than two cards in a certain suit – and that specified which suit – and one that indicated the ‘preferred lead’.

In contract Bridge involves a bidding process that takes place before a hand is played, and by communicating at this time, the pair placed themselves at an unfair advantage to their opponents.

The German doctors purposefully did not attend the hearing, claiming that they would not have been given a fair trial as both the chairman of the disciplinary commission and the WBF’s prosecutors were America.

Elinescu and Wladow’s guilty verdict will not affect the outcome of their fellow German team players however, who have been completely exonerated in the process.

The doctors are to be stripped of their gold medals, pending a possible appeal, and the American team will be named the champions in their place.

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

Voices
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014
voices

Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
news

Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Leonardo DiCaprio talks during the press conference for the film
films

Film follows park rangers in the Congo

Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
News
i100
Sport
Adel Taraabt in action for QPR against West Ham earlier this month
footballQPR boss says midfielder is 'not fit to play football'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Systems and Network Administrator

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leicester: We are recruiting for a Systems and ...

English Teacher

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Group: English as an Additional Langua...

Nursery assistants required in Cambridgeshire

£10000 - £15000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...

History Teacher

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Seconda...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album