Ronaldo has some new boots. Have you seen them? They're cheat's boots.
The Real Madrid star has been working with Nike for the last year to develop a new pair of boots in orange and white and grey, covered in circles and parallel lines (and a few non-parallel ones too). The boots deceive an opponent into thinking that Ronaldo is about to turn in the opposite direction from the one he's really about to turn in. He started using them a couple of weeks ago, and although there's been no report yet as to how successful they are, it's actually irrelevant. Because they still make him a cheat.
Which is hardly surprising news. Ronaldo, after all, was the man who fell over more times in a single season of Premier League football than anyone else in history. An opponent only had to run up to him and say, "Hullo big boy", and he was down on the ground grabbing his ankle or head or whatever other part of his anatomy he figured would earn his opponent the best colour card.
If a footballer uses a piece of equipment blatantly intended to deceive another player, that's cheating. Like American golfers in '70s who started to use a new self-correcting ball that always flew straight. Either everyone had to use it, or nobody, which is why the United States Golf Association banned it. And why Ronaldo's boots should be banned too.
And there's another point to this - Nike made these boots for him. They spent a year helping to create a boot designed to cheat. Is that good for their image?
These days, it probably is! Let's face it - sport is all about winning. And if a bit of cheating is what's needed, why not?
Nike designer Andrew Caine explains: "The movement of feet is something a lot of players are looking to see. We did some stuff during the World Cup using a bright orange color to help players see their teammates' feet more easily. This goes in the opposite direction. With this boot you see slightly different feet depending on what side of him you are looking at."
And if a little bit of cheating is OK, why not a lot? How about a Cheat's Olympics?
It would be a no-holds-barred event in which competitors could use anything they like to improve their performance. As long as their movements derived entirely from their own body power they could leverage it anyway they chose - bauxite boots, articulated ankles, platinum knee joints. Or drugs.
After all, soldiers have long been filled with amphetamine before going into battle, the better to run up the beach and bayonet the enemy. And the same goes for space exploration. You don't think astronauts are sent into space without a pillbox half the size of the rocket, do you? So why not for athletes trying to break new frontiers of speed and strength?
There could be two tiers of sport, like forty years ago when there was amateur and professional tennis. Wimbledon was amateur - nice for gentlemanly play and strawberry teas. But anyone who won it immediately joined the pro circuit, which is where you saw the really top-class tennis. Amateur players in those days were banned from tournaments simply because they'd accepted five pounds worth of luncheon vouchers, the same way they can be banned today for smoking a joint during a month's break in training.
Think of Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee South African. He uses bendy bits of metal instead of legs. At the moment he's not allowed to compete, and quite rightly too, because for all anyone knows his false legs are stronger and faster than the real thing. While he's trying to get accepted into mainstream athletics he's keeping his false legs at a normal length. But if this new double tier sport takes off he'll be able to make them twice as long and maybe still move them just as fast. World records will blow out the window.
And drug companies can start developing energy-tripling drugs. Given the freedom to do so they'll probably get people running the hundred yards in five seconds. Can Peter the Pill from Peebles beat Tommy the Titanium Tearaway? As a spectator sport, no-holds-barred athletics would knock the traditional variety for six.
You see, Ronaldo - there's no knowing where the trend you've started will end. Scientists might even devise a new way of falling over. Bruises could be made to appear at once; then disappear as soon as your opponent gets his red card.