Steve Waugh calls for lie-detector tests

Nic Maddinson of Australia
Friday, 09 August 2013 By Alex Odell

We are still in the midst of a heated Ashes battle, but Steve Waugh wasn’t referring to Stuart Broad’s incredible refusal to walk in the first Trent Bridge test when he called for the use of lie-detectors this week. Instead, the former Australian captain was calling for the use of polygraphs to combat corruption in cricket1. But are polygraphs actually a useful tool for a sports corruption investigation? 

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About the Author

Alex Odell

Alex Odell

Alex is a barrister at Peters & Peters Solicitors, specialising in business crime, extradition, corruption and sports law. He is part of the P&P Sports Disputes and Investigations team. Prior to joining P&P, Alex was a tenant at the leading criminal set Five Paper Buildings. He has extensive experience of sports law in the context of criminal litigation, having prosecuted cases involving the illicit broadcasting of premier league football for many years.

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Comments (2)

  • timbo

    • 11 August 2013 at 01:59
    • #

    Waugh may as well get the players to swear on the bible, Koran, or whatever belief system they hold dear. Polygraphy is basically voodoo science that has earned its reputation via copious public exposure through fiction and associations with US intelligence organizations. The legal system however won't touch it, and rightly so, because it's junk science that relies on the canny skills of its practitioners to sell the product's dubious claims. Blind studies have shown that the results are little better than basic guesswork, and much of the focus on their usage in the USA basically revolves around bluffing people into believing in the polygraph's press and admitting their guilt beforehand. I've studied the subject extensively via background research for a novel and have spoken to law enforcement officials who use the equipment, and the bluff component is the biggest factor to their usage, especially as they know the results can't be used in a court of law. Aldrich Ames, the infamous American spy who sold out his country's secrets to the former USSR, passed numerous polygraph tests, and has written extensively from prison on how easy it is to sail through the procedure. Look it up.


  • Steven van Aperen

    • 12 August 2013 at 10:31
    • #

    Actually Timbo Aldrich Ames failed several tests but supervisors of the polygraph examiner refused to believe that the head of counter intelligence would be involved in espionage.

    There are more studies on the accuracy and veracity of polygraph testing than there are on document examination and handwriting evidence (both subjective fields but routinely admitted into evidence on a daily basis). Whilst polygraph does not boast 100% accuracy we have seen eye witnesses make mistakes, fingerprints wrongly classified, DNA cross contaminated and juries convict innocent people. No one would ever be convicted on the results of a polygraph test but it can be used an an effective investigative approach in the hands of a certified and qualified examiner.


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