The Egypt Exploration Society owns more than 500,000 papyrus fragments from this site, and they are now kept at the Sackler Library at Oxford.
In the modern world, scandals involving bribes to athletes, or athletic officials, often revolve around gambling or attempts to reward a medal to athletes from a particular country.
The winners of ancient games would sometimes be paid sizable amounts of money, or receive lifetime pensions from their hometown, Rathbone said. However, he noted, there was no prize at all for coming in second.
"In ancient competitions, coming first is the one and only thing - no silver, no bronze," Rathbone said. Additionally, the cost of training athletes was considerable. Athletes from wealthy families could pay their own way, but athletes from less-well-off backgrounds could find themselves in debt to their trainers.
"The trainer is going to pay for your food, your accommodations and so on for your training, so you end up in debt to him," Rathbone said.
In this winner-takes-all situation, both sides may have decided to curb their risks by making a deal to fix the match, Rathbone said.