Cheating in the Massage World Cup 2021

NOTE! At the time of writing (December 2nd, 2021) the information in this article is confidential. It is meant for internal use within the Massage World Cup management group, including organizers, judges, and the ethics committee. The article is available via a link, and not generally visible to the public. Depending on the development of the case, the information may be made public later.

Sabah Arbia caught cheating as a judge

During the voting for the Massage World Cup 2021, one of our judges, Sabah Arbia, was caught cheating. She was given the chance to correct her scores but did not comply. Later, she broke the confidentiality clause of her contract, sharing restricted information both internally and externally.

Ironically, Sabah was also the trusted leader of the Ethics Committee at the time, which made the situation quite awkward for the organizers. We tried to engage her in a constructive dialogue, to solve the issue on a low level, but she again refused to comply. We have later noticed that she has continued sharing confidential information (mixed with false claims) with other judges, to turn them against MWCC.

So, we finally decided that it is our responsibility to make the facts and the whole story available to all our judges and council members.

Excluded for life – a lesson to be learned

Sabah Arbia is no longer a licensed judge, and she will never work with MWCC again. But we know that she is working with other organizers, and we hope that she will be kept under control. The reputation of the whole competition community is at risk if participants cannot trust that they will be evaluated objectively.

We share this information with you because we want to:

  • Offer a learning experience to other organizers.
  • Present a warning to other judges that ethics is taken very seriously.
  • Protect the competition community against an unethical person.
  • Protect our name and reputation against false claims by this person.
Sabah Arbia cheated as a judge in the Massage Worlc Dup 2021

Sabah Arbia cheated as a judge in the Massage World Cup 2021. She is excluded for life.

Details about the cheating attempt

Sabah Arbia was given one of the most popular categories to evaluate. This category included the participants who later won all the overall medals, and also medals in other categories. So, it was probably the highest-level category in the whole championship.

In our point system, with a scale from 1 to 6, we expected to see an average score of around 4.5 for this group of participants, and an intense and even fight between the participants.

To our great surprise, Sabah gave us a point list which was completely different:

  • One participant received only 6’s (we will call this participant ‘X‘)
  • The others received an average of 3.4

When we looked at the scores of the other two judges in this category, they had both given X scores below middle, so there was no apparent reason for all the 6’s from Sabah.

So, it was clear that Sabah was making a deliberate attempt to manipulate the result list and create her own winner, overriding the other judges’ opinions.

NOTE! This is the absolute worst you can do as a judge! You are stealing medals from other participants; you are destroying other judges’ work and you are putting the name and honor of the competition and the organizers at risk.

Adjusting the scores for a fair result

We had several options for managing the corrupt scores from Sabah, and the most obvious were:

  • To remove her scores completely, but this happened very late in the voting period, and we had no substitute judges ready.
  • To adjust Sabah’s scores to make them fair for everybody, and we knew exactly how to manage this.

Since we wanted to have three judges’ opinions, we chose the second option.

  1. The score given to X was reduced to just a single point above number 2 on Sabah’s list, to remove the unrealistic gap, but respecting Sabah’s opinion that this was the best participant.
  2. All Sabah’s scores were adjusted up so that their average was the same as the two other judges’ average.

Thus, the result list reflected fairly the evaluations of all the judges in the category, and we got the deserved winners. X was not one of them.

NOTE! The math and analysis behind this are a bit complex, but also very precise and correct. If you want detailed insight, or help with your own championship, please contact us for free consultation.


The MWCC voting system

High quality and transparency in the evaluation of massage performances has been the core focus of MWCC since the beginning. The founders have experience from organizing other online massage competitions and have also studied the voting systems of other competitions. We have discovered certain weaknesses and made improvements so that our system is as objective as possible.

For details, see our Categories and Point System

We also run a series of mathematical adjustments to all the judges’ scores before the total points are calculated, to ensure that all the judges have the same influence.

NOTE! Any system that does not make these adjustments, is quite easy to manipulate, and we know that this happens in every competition, even though the judges may not do it on purpose.

Even with our high-quality system, the scores still must be individually checked to see if a judge is actively trying to manipulate the result list (= cheat). The easiest way to cheat is to give one participant an exceedingly high score, and the rest of the group low scores. This will override the other judges’ evaluations and create an undeserved winner.

NOTE! Any organizer that does not check and adjust for this is sure to be manipulated by subjective judges, and we know that this has happened in other competitions.

The MWCC license course and confidentiality clause

All our judges have passed our license course and have accepted to follow our ethical rules. Some of these rules are:

  • Points shall be given as objectively and consistently as possible.
  • The participants shall not be compared by the judges, and the judges shall not express any opinion on who should win.
  • The judges shall not discuss their points or opinions with other judges or any other persons except the competition management!

Another rule is 100% confidentiality about everything the judges experience and learn when they work for MWCC. This is very important to protect the judges’ and organizers’ integrity against potential external attempts to influence or manipulate the scores.

Requirements for judges

Being a judge in massage competitions is a position of responsibility. A professional judge needs to be competent, objective, honest, and loyal.

To maintain a group of professional judges, the organizers of a competition need to have a good system for recruitment, training, and ethics.

To help the judges to stay objective and give each participant a fair and relevant evaluation, the organizers also need to have a voting system with solid:

  • Category descriptions
  • Criteria for giving points
  • A point system that is objective, clear, and robust against manipulation

NOTE! The MWCC system is the most advanced and solid system in the world, and we are happy to share it with everyone because we want the competition community to grow and develop every year. Please contact us!