Sports

47+ Massive Sporting Scandals That Should Never Be Forgotten

When most people play sports, sportsmanship is a critical part of the game. Without trust and adherence to the rules, the world of sports would not be what it is. Yet despite the widespread knowledge that following the rules is crucial, we get our fair share of people that flout them and commit athletic treason of the most severe degree. Here, we take an in-depth look at the biggest sports scandals in history and we’ll catch up with their perpetrators.

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Image: Time Magazine

In the coming pages, we’ll update your memory on the craziest and most shocking scandals that have ever haunted the sports world. And we’ll look at where the disgraced participants are today. From Tiger Woods’s infamous infidelity to Lance Armstrong’s secret ingredient, we remind you that not every athlete is always so honorable.

Tom Brady Was Implicated in Deflategate

Among all the various football scandals we remember, Deflategate is one of the biggest. When the new England Patriots beat the Indianapolis Colts in 2014, allegations were made against legendary quarterback Tom Brady asserting that helped orchestrate a clandestine deflation of the Patriot’s game ball – which apparently would make it much easier to catch and throw.

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Image: The New York Times

The Patriots went on to annihilate the Colts. Suspicions were raised or someone received a tip, and the NFL commission launched an investigation. It concluded that Brady, among others, was “at least generally aware” of the deflation. He was suspended for a few games and the Patriots had to pay a $1 million dollar fine. Still to this day, Brady’s involvement – in fact, the whole scandal itself – is disputed and he remains the world’s football god.

The Hand of God Was Bitter Revenge

This one for sure has a creative and very fitting name: The Hand of God Scandal. The year is 1986. It’s the Word Cup. Britain faces off against Argentina. Roughly four years prior, these two countries faced off in a real battle, the Falkland Wars. Britain won by wrestling back its sovereignty of the Falklands from Argentina. The Hand of God happened against the backdrop of bitterness between the two countries.

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Image: The Guardian

What should have been an unequivocal yellow card for Argentinian player Diego Maradona for using his hand ended up being a goal. Because of this pivotal moment, Argentina went on to win the match. The ref allegedly never saw it happen, and they didn’t have instant replay technology back then to check. People were incensed, but the result was never overturned. The event remains one of the most controversial in World Cup history.

Bounty Scandal Results Results in Disgrace and Bans

We know that football is a little aggressive, some might even say violent. But did you know that there is also an underground culture of bounties in the NFL. In 2009, a tip from an anonymous player claimed that the New Orleans Saints were targeting specific players on the opposing team, likely with the aim of injuring them. When the Saints played the Minnesota Vikings, they put a special focus, allegations said, on Vikings quarterback Brett Favre.

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Image: NFL

They knocked Favre to the ground with a low-high hit which hurt his angle. It’s the kind of tackle that is not allowed. When a whistleblower came forth and exposed the bounty program, the head coach was suspended and so was defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Several Saints players were also suspended for a while. Interestingly, the targets of the bounties (including Favre) just consider the dirty hits part of the game.

NBA’s Tim Donaghy Just Kept Gambling His Way Into Trouble

The 2007 NBA Betting Scandal is one of the most insidious in basketball history. After game after game containing weird call after weird call, referee Tim Donaghy came under suspicion. He confessed to betting on matches in which he was the ref. That’s inside betting at its worst. For one, the ref knows detailed info about the relationships and dynamics in every team.

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Image: NBA

More gravely, he actually asserts a direct influence on the outcome of a game by making calls. This is not a legal position from which to bet. Once Donaghy came under scrutiny, he confessed. He was charged and sentenced to 15 months in prison. After, he wrote a book called Personal Foul but publishers backed out due to liability concerns. Donaghy’s career never got back on track, and in 2017 he was arrested again, this time for assault.

The Spanish Paralympics Basketball Team Faked Disabilities

This is a bad one. In 2000, the intellectually disabled Spanish basketball team won the gold medal at the Paralympics. Then, it was later discovered that only two of the people on the team had a disability. None of the other team members should have been competing in this event.

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Image: Daily Mail

Everything started unraveling when the pictures and footage of the game came out on TV. People came forward saying they knew some of the Spanish players personally and that they had no disabilities. The former head of the Spanish Federation for Mentally Handicapped Sports was fined €5,400 ($6400) and made to return €142,355 ($170,000) in government subsidies. The team was disqualified and ordered to return the gold medals.

Clay vs. The United States Was an Out-of-Ring Triumph for Muhammad Ali

Some people have called this one Muhammad Ali’s (formerly Cassius Clay) biggest fight. In 1967 his appeal for conscientious objector status to not enlist in the military and not go to Vietnam was rejected. He famously said his real quarrel was not with the Vietcong, but rather with the systemic racism that plagues African American.

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Image: San Francisco Chronicle (left) / The New York Times (right)

Though Ali was well informed that he could face five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, he didn’t budge. The court eventually convicted him but he remained free while countering with an appeal. At the end of the much-publicized trial, both sides reached an agreement and Ali’s conviction was reversed.

No One Knows If the NBA Commissioner Cheated in the Draft Lottery

These days, the NBA draft happens behind closed doors (under tight supervision) and then the results are presented on TV. Back in 1985, the draft lottery happened live. Whichever team’s envelopes were pulled first were allowed the first pick of the available players. The person that drew the enveloped from the transparent drum was NBA commissioner David Stern, a big fan of the New York Knicks.

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Image: FanSided

Which team’s envelope did he draw, giving them the team first pick? The New York Knicks. What a lucky coincidence! Or what is? Some have claimed that the Knicks envelope was frozen beforehand, making it easy to identify. Other theories have claimed that when the envelope was placed in the drum, it was shoved hard against the side, resulting in a folded corner that’s easy to spot. Sterns’s innocence or guilt has never been proven.

Zinedine Zidane Just Couldn’t Control His Temper

We get that in soccer you’re supposed to sometimes use your head, but French player Zinedine Zidane shocked the entire world when during a game between France and Italy, he gave an Italian player a surprise headbutt to the abdomen. Footage shows Zidane walking in front of the Italian, and then in a flash of motion turning around and smashing him with his noggin. This happened at the 2006 World Cup in Berlin.

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Image: FOX Sports

So why did Zidane apparently boil over? Well, for one, tension had been running high between the French and Italian teams. Also, Zidane states that his Italian victim, Marco Materazzi, fired a volley of insults at him on the field, including ones aimed at his mother. Zidane was fined and banned, but his outstanding reputation lived on. Eventually, Materazzi admitted that he insulted Zidane’s sister.

Coach Belichick Survived Being at the Center of a Spying Scandal

This huge scandal isn the NFL known as Spygate totally embodies cheating in the 21st century. Personnel affiliated with the New England Patriots who were standing on the sideline during the game were accused of filming the signaling of the New York Jets coaches on the opposite side of the field. It’s not that filming the coaches is illegal, but there are designated areas for it. Filming the coaches up close when you’re down on the field is prohibited.

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Image: ESPN (left) / The New York Times (right)

When the scandal hit the media in 2007, the Patriots were awash in a tsunami of outrage. Their head coach, Bill Belichick was fined a total of $500,000 dollars, the biggest fine ever given to a coach. The team was fined $250,000 and made to forfeit its first-round draft selection the following season. Belichick eventually paid the fine and recovered from the scandal. He still coaches in the NFL today.

After Rubbing a Ball With Sandpaper, Cameron Was Caught Cheating

In its essence, cricket is usually somehow considered a sport for righteous players. As one writer put it, a sport “mighty in its pure moral pedigree.” But some of that purity went out the window in 2018 when Cameron Bancroft from the Australian team was caught trying to rough up game balls with sandpaper in order to make them swing mid-air. Better mid-air swings would provide his team with a tactical advantage.

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Image: Independent Australia

Television cameras caught Bancroft tampering with a game ball that was stuffed into his pants. Security officials approached him and the scandal erupted. He and a few other players on the team were given an extensive ban. A year later though, after the dust had settled, Bancroft returned to the world of Cricket despite his cheating past.

Greg Chappell Continued His Career After Disgrace

In a 1981 match when Australia faced New Zealand in the World Cup Series, Greg Chappell, wanted to make sure that his country (AUS) would win. So he told his teammate (who is also his brother) to throw the ball underarm. The move is considered extremely bad etiquette, almost cheating. Since the ball was thrown underarm, its trajectory and speed could be controlled and the New Zealand team wasn’t able to get the runs they needed

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Image: The New Daily (left) / Cricket Country (right)

Chappell was disgraced big time. The prime minister of New Zealand at the time said: “It was the most disgusting incident I can recall in the history of cricket.” Since it wasn’t exactly illegal, there was no punishment – just disgrace – and Chappell went on to play cricket and eventually ended up on the Australian Cricket Board. Underarm bowls were thereafter banned from the sport.

The Sporting Cold War Scandal Left Many Bitter

The confrontation that went down between the U.S. and the Soviet Union on the court of the 1972 Olympic basketball final is in some ways just another battle that was fought between the two belligerent superpowers. The U.S. had played since 1936 (the first year) and had never lost a game. But the Soviets were getting better. In 1952 they got second place.

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Image: Russia Beyon

During the game, there were of a bunch of sketchy occurrences, including a mysterious horn that sounded when an American player was taking a penalty shot and some very dubious calls. The Soviet Union went on to win the game. The event left an acrid taste in America’s mouth and it went down in sports history as a scandalous ordeal, covered in the documentary called Silver Reunion on ESPN.

The 2015 FIFA Scandal Shone a Light on an Infested Organization

In 2015, the FIFA scandal exploded. Joint investigations (including by the FBI) uncovered a swamp of corruption. Fraud, money laundering, misappropriation of public funds, bribery, and everything in between. The estimated amount of dirty money was valued $150 million.

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Image: CNBC

Part of the problem was also the 2014 World Cup. Many Brazilians were furious with the astronomical amounts of public funding was being spent on building stadiums to host the tournament. The list of defendants included people from governments, soccer federations, FIFA sponsors, and individuals from plenty of private companies.

Nelson Piquet Jr. Purposely Crashed on Purpose But Wasn’t Punished

This is what fixing looks like in Formula 1. In 2008, in a scandal known as Crashgate, Nelson Piquet Jr, deliberately crashed his racecar during the Grand Prix in Singapore to improve conditions for the other Renault team driver, Fernando Alfonso. At the time, Piquet Jr. said his crash was the result of a simple mistake.

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Image: ESPN

In the aftermath of the scandal, Renault did not contest the charges and they were disqualified and suspended and some of the company’s executives were fired. The suspension was later repealed. Alfonso was unaware of the fixing of which he was a beneficiary, and his career went untarnished And though Piquet Jr. is one of the people who made it happen, he was escaped a sanction – a fact that many were very critical of.

The Duke Lacrosse Scandal Is a Failure in the Justice System

In 2006, three members of the Duke University were accused of assaulting Crystal Mangum, a student at North Carolina Central University and an exotic dancer. When she and another dancer arrived at a party to perform, things got heated and arguing ensued. Then three members of the lacrosse team were arrested and charged with assault.

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Image: The Seattle Times

The team members went to trial and were prosecuted. The whole thing became a huge media frenzy. Then, all charges were dropped. As it turns out, the accusations were false. The lead prosecutor of the team members lied about DNA evidence. And there were all sorts of other weird inconsistencies in the evidence and in Mangum’s story. In the end, she was prosecuted. The prosecutor of the team members was also charged.

Floyd Landis Still Claims That He Has Never Been Guilty of Doping

After a major meltdown in Stage 16 of the Tour De France cycling competition in 2006. Floyd Landis (seemingly magically) got a second wind and flew by everyone in the subsequent stages of the race. And he won. Immediately after the race – perhaps because people were suspicious – he was urine tested. His results came back as positive for a few drugs that are considered performance-enhancing.

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Image: Sports Illustrated Vault

Following the scandal, Tour De France officials stripped Landis of his title. He protested and urged that he was not guilty of doping. He offered a bunch of explanations that were later heavily criticized. Some even became a joke: on David Letterman, there was a bit about the “Top 10 Floyd Landis Excuses.” But despite Landis’s protests, the decision stood. Landis was banned for a few years and he never did get his title back.

Bloodgate Leads to Shame and Suspensions

The BBC has described Bloodgate as rugby’s biggest scandal. In 2009, two Irish teams, Leinster and the Harlequins faced off. One of the Harlequins’ players got injured and was replaced. Then the replacement got injured – more seriously. So the Harlequins were left with only their last choice option to fill a certain position. Since the first guy had already been substituted out, he couldn’t come back in, even if he was ok.

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Image: The Guardian

After the switcharoos, the third substitute also “got injured.” Though unclear how it happened, he was bleeding. Now, this allowed the Harlequins to put their first guy back in. The only problem: the blood injury was fake, the player, Tom Williams had used fake blood capsules. He and the coach were suspended. The medic that cut his lip to cover up the scam was suspended for some time.

It’s Clear Whether the Allegations Made Against Bobby Riggs Are True

Battle of the Sexes, as it’s known, was a historical series of American tennis matches played between Billie Jean King (a woman) and Bobby Riggs (a man). It’s a massive event that was viewed by almost 100 million people in the U.S. and around the world. On one hand, (helped by the fact that King won) it was a triumph for the world of women’s tennis. But on the other hand, there might have been some scandalous elements.

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Image: ABC News

There were allegations that Riggs threw the match, meaning he deliberately let King win the series. It’s not clear whether the allegations were true. But ESPN’s Outside the Lines claims that a source who has been silent for 40 years disclosed that Riggs threw the match in exchange for the Mafia clearing his gambling debt. Riggs’s son has since vehemently denied that narrative and claims that his dad was never involved with the mob.

A-Rod’s Reputation Has Recovered From a Doping Scandal

The Biogenesis scandal was a huge story in MLB when multiple players were found to be using performance-enhancing substances, including steroids. The Miami New Times obtained documents from a Biogenesis employee showing that the players had been administered the substances in the company’s clinic.

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Image: Yahoo (left) / MLB Daily Dish (right)

The ensuing investigation found that among those that tested positive were several superstar players, including the famed Alex Rodriguez, a.k.a. A-Rod. Ultimately, criminal charges were made against the clinic’s owner: conspiracy to distribute testosterone. A-Rod was suspended and the Yankees never made the playoffs. 12 other players were also suspended. Today, it seems A-Rod’s reputation has crawled back to almost-full health.

Skategate Judge Admits to Cheating Then Later Claims Innocence

Skategate is a fixing scandal that happened at the 2002 Winter Olympics. When Canadian skating pair Jamie Salé and David Pelletier faced off against their Russian counterparts Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze, North American announcers called the Canadian win. Moments later, everyone was outraged to hear that the judges gave the win to the Russian pair, despite an inferior performance.

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Image: BBC

Viewers were suspicious of a French judge’s call. When Marie-Reine Le Gougne, returned to her hotel, she was confronted by an official. Le Gougne admitted she made the fraudulent call. She said it was to give an advantage to the French team. She was banned from the 2006 Winter Olympics and suspended for three years. Years later she would go back on her admission of guilt and claim that she truly deserved the Russian pair deserved to win.

Ryan Lochte Lied the Whole Time He Was in Brazil

During a night out on the town during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Ryan Lochte and a couple more swimmers from the American team got into trouble. They claimed that they were robbed at gunpoint, at least this is the story they told the Brazilian authorities the next day… But when video evidence and testimonies emerged so, too, did the real story.

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Image: ABC

Lochte and his teammates were confronted by security guards of a gas station where they urinated. The encounter ended with the swimmers giving the security guards money. But there was no footage showing the armed men ever removed their guns from their holsters. Lochte admitted to lying about the nature of the encounter and apologized for overshadowing the Olympic games.

Luis Resto Admitted Cheating Only Decades After It Happened

The story of the Luis Resto (right) rigged glove scandal is huge and it’s one of the sadder ones. In a 1983 boxing match against Billy Collins is New York, Resto won by 10-round unanimous knockout. After the match when Collins’s (trainer) and father shook Resto’s hand, he noticed that the gloves felt thin. An investigation revealed that the gloves had been tampered with. An ounce of cotton had been taken out of each one and replaced with chalk.

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Image: Sports Mirchi

Because of his injuries sustained in the match, Collins’s vision never healed and his boxing career ended. A few months later, he passed away in a car accident. In the aftermath of the glove scandal, Resto and his trainer were charged with assault and illegal possession of a weapon (Resto’s hands). Resto’s boxing career never recovered and he only admitted to having knowledge of the tampering in 2007, almost 25 years after it happened.

Operation Slapshot Linked Gretzky’s Wife to the Mob

In 2006, in what is called Operation Slapshot, authorities unearthed a massive gambling ring in the NHL. A number of players and officials were involved, among the most notable were Rick Tocchet, an assistant coach for the Phoenix Coyotes, and Janet Jones, the wife of hockey god Wayne Gretzky.

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Image: The Star

The people involved in the ring were doing all sorts of shady things, including inside betting. That means that they were betting on games on which they could influence the outcome. Also, it was discovered that the ring probably had to ties to the Bruno-Scarfo crime family. Rick Tocchet received a light sentence (two years of probation) and betters, including Jones, were not charged.

Glassmann Was Given an Award for Exposing a Huge Scandal

In 1993, a big scandal emerged from within the French Division 1 soccer league. The two teams that were facing off were Marseille and Valenciennes. The manager from Marseille called up one of the players from Valenciennes and offered him a bride. He was asked to underperform in the upcoming match against Marseille. This was to “keep Marseille players fresh” for their upcoming match against Milan.

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Image: These Football Times

The initial player that was offered the bribe, Jean-Jacques Eydelie, agreed and so did a few more players. But one player, Jacques Glassmann, refused. And he subsequently reported it. After the scandal unraveled, Glassman went on to receive the FIFA Fair Play Award. The president of Marseille had to resign and he and some players were charged with corruption. And for the next season, the entire team was relegated to a lesser division.

John Higgins Was Not the Mastermind of the Snooker Fixing Scandal

When it comes to losing at pool, if you’re like us, then you probably don’t have to try too hard. But not the pros. Expert snooker player from Scotland, John Higgins was implicated in a game-throwing scandal in 2010. Initial investigations indicated that he had taken bribes and agreed to lose a series of games on purpose.

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Image: Snooker Me

When more evidence came to light, it turned out that though Higgins did play a role, the real shady doings were happening unbeknownst to him. The blame shifted to Higgin’s former business partner, Pat Mooney, who was banned for life but dodged criminal prosecution by a technicality. Higgins received a light fine and returned to his snooker career the following year. He says he agreed to fix the matches cause he felt threatened.

Michael Jordan’s Retirement Fiasco Did Not Slow Him Down

It’s not every day that someone gets to retire at age 30. But Michael Jordan, the undisputed king of basketball did just that. In 1993 he announced his retirement. The world went crazy. The news reverberated through the media like a seizure. People were outraged about the seemingly brash decision.

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Image: Twitter / Bulls Nation

When Jordan opened up about why he chose to retire, he cited the death of his father, who had recently died in a tragic carjacking. It’s a legitimate reason. But people were once again shocked when he decided that he would try his hand a Major League Baseball. Rumors also circulated that his departure was due to gambling. After his MLB stint, Jordan returned and continued on his path to becoming the b-ball emperor.

The Love Boat Was a Dark Chapter in the History of the Minnesota Vikings

In 2005, news emerged that the Minnesota Vikings had rented two huge boats and flown women in from all over the place to have a big inappropriate and unbecoming party. Lots of grave acts of indiscretion took place and many, but not all, of the team members participated.

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Image: CBS (left) / Sportress of Blogitude (right)

The event was an embarrassment for the team and the head coach, Mike Tice, was fired. A few of the players got misdemeanors and would eventually move on. After the coach was replaced, the integrity of the Vikings crawled back and they went on to win the 2009 NFC Championship Game

The IPL Spot-Fixing Scandal Ended a Few Players’ Careers

In 2013 the Mumbai Police in India arrested several cricket players on charges that they were involved in a spot-fixing scandal. This is where a tiny little detail of the game, sometimes seemingly mundane, is manipulated in order to provide a tactical advantage to the beneficiary. For example, it could include a purposeful tiny delay of timing, or something as small as that.

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Image: MSN

Once you can manipulate the results by a factor other than skilled playing, then you can bet on the biased outcome. Some of the cricket players were charged and banned for life, while others proved to not have taken an active role and were cleared of charges. Police also cracked down on the bookies that were taking and facilitating the bets.

Many Were Furious When Officials Overturned a Critical Fumble Call

The notorious Tuck Rule Game, a match between the New England Patriots and the Oakland Raiders in 2001 left lots of fans furious. Football icon Tom Brady, then the QB of the Patriots, went to complete a pass and then was tackled by a Raiders defenseman and lost the ball. Classic fumble, right? Wrong.

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Image: ESPN

When officials reviewed the play, they noticed that although Brady caught the ball to the point where he was beginning to tuck under his arm and then was tackled. They counted it as an incomplete pass and the fumble call was overturned. Ouch. The Patriots were now within field goal range. They won the game. Nothing illegal happened here, it was a semi-subjective, but legal call. Still, the incident left a bitter taste in the mouths of many.

Officials Found an “Unknown Substance” in Michael Waltrip’s Car

The Gatorade Duel Scandal refers to a bunch of cheating that happened during the 2007 Gatorade Duels, the qualifying event for the Daytona 500. The most prominent of all was the case of Michael Waltrip. Upon a post-race inspection, it was discovered that his vehicle had an “unknown substance” in it, including in the manifold. To this day, we still don’t know (cause NASCAR never revealed) what exactly the “unknown substance” was.

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Image: Sports Business Daily (left) / Autoweek (right)

Perhaps the substance was ether or some other chemical that mixes with gasoline to give your car an extra kick. Waltrip was penalized by 100 points. He became first driver in NASCAR history to begin a season with a negative point total in the Daytona 500 (-26). This is an unprecedentedly disastrous score. But things died down, and once Waltrip served his dues, his career got back on track (sorry for the pun).

The Terrible Box Judges Won’t Be Serving in the Next Olympics

During the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the air seemed to be thick with scandal. Among the weirdness was the suspension of 36 boxing judges on the grounds of incompetence. Several times the stadiums filled with boos as terrible calls were made. 36 people that were supposed to be top-notch professionals acted like amateurs with poor judgment.

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Image: The New York Times

In fact, literally all the boxing judges and referees faced suspension. Besides the angry viewers, boxers too were furious. Michael Conlan of Ireland (red shorts) famously called out a judge on live TV, accusing her of corruption. Also, rumours swirled about the reason the judges were so awful. Were they getting bribes? It’s not clear. But what is clear is that those judges won’t be serving in the next Olympic games.

Jane Blalock Never Condemned Those Who Accused Her

In the case of golfer Jane Blalock, her own actions are only half of the fiasco. The other half comes from the publicity bonanza that surrounded the whole thing. What happened? Well, in 1972, Blalock allegedly misplaced her marker. Meaning, she placed it, some claim, in a position that would have given her a little advantage. For incorrectly replacing her marker, Blalock was given a two-stroke penalty, which she refused to accept.

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Image: Women’s Golf Journal

It led to her disqualification. But she wanted to fight back. In the ensuing years, a legal battle between Blalock and the Ladies Professional Golf Association raged on. In the end, despite the controversy, Blalock continued playing golf. Also, she always refused to condemn her accusers, stating that ” Life is too short and there is too much sadness.” She’s got a point.

The Participants in the Black Sox Scandal Were Banned for Life

The Black Sox Scandal, which happened in 1919, is one of the most famous – if not the most famous – in MLB history. Eight members of the Chicago White Sox were accused of deliberately trying to lose the World Series against the Cincinnati in exchange for money. The scandal was organized by Arnold Rothstein, a kingpin of the Jewish mob.

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Image: HISTORY

Throughout the game, there were a number of calls that made people suspicious. For example, sports writers picked up on a purposely bad throw made by a White Sox player. This is just one example from a list of fishy stuff. In the end, all eight members involved in the cheating were caught and were banned for life from participating in professional baseball of any kind. Despite appeals to overturn the ruling, the bans stood forever.

Ray Rice Sued His Team After the Scandal That Got Him in Trouble

In 2014, Ray Rice, former running back of the Baltimore Ravens, and his now-wife Janay Palmer got into an altercation while at a casino. Both were arrested and charged with assault. Then, a video emerged that showed Rice dragging his wife out of an elevator after he had punched her.

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Image: ESPN

For the attack on his wife, Rice was charged with aggravated assault. But after the trial, he got off with court-supervised counseling. The NFL decided to only suspend Rice for two games. The light punishment was later reflected on regrettably by the official who imposed it who felt is wasn’t severe enough. Rice went on to sue the Ravens for $3.5 million for affecting his livelihood, and it seems like he was awarded most of it.

An Unfair Lack of Call Helped The LA Rams Win the Game

The New Orleans Saints faced off against the Los Angeles Rams in the 2018 NFL championship game. It was super tense; fans, coaches, and players alike were white knuckling their seats the whole time. And then disaster (a miracle for others) struck the Saints. As seen in the photo below, as wide receiver Lewis was getting ready to catch a pass, he was tackled. If you know the rules of football, you’ll know that this is “pass interference.”

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Image: NFL

You can’t tackle someone if they haven’t caught the ball. Despite the flagrant violation, the refs didn’t pull a flag and no one was penalized. But people were outrage and the call – rather, the lack thereof – went down in the books as scandalous. It elicited tons of backlash and anger, and the Rams went on to win. Still, nothing was overturned and nobody was charged since nothing technically illegal happened.

After Doping, Lance Armstrong Left Cycling for Podcasting

Lance Armstrong is a household name. Mostly for his cycling (with seven consecutive Tour de France wins), but also for his battle with cancer and relationship with singer Sheryl Crow. All throughout his career he faced allegations of using performance-enhancing drugs. In 2010 his former teammate, Floyd Landis, admitted that he had been doping during the years he was on the same team as Armstrong. He also accused Lance of doping.

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Image: Yahoo Sports

In 2012, the United States Anti-Doping Agency charged him with using, possessing, and trafficking banned substances. Armstrong did not appeal the charge and was stripped of all his achievements. In 2013, he finally admitted his doping on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Today, Armstrong is busy shooting a documentary about himself, hosting podcasts, and he also owns a coffee shop (of course, the coffee there is 100% drug-free.)

No One Knows Why Lavinia Agache and Her Team Committed Fraud

Lavinia Agache is a well known gymnast who won 10 medals, including a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics. In 1981 Lavinia entered the International Gymnastics Classic in L.A. as Ekaterina Szabo. It’s not clear why they decided to enter her under a false name, as nothing prohibited her from entering under her own name. She ended up coming in second place, but because of the fraud her scores were invalid after the competition.

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Image: Gymnastics Wiki

This really is one of the stranger scandals in sports because the reason behind it is not clear. Both Ekaterina and Lavinia were well known gymnasts at the time. She went on to win other medals and compete in other competitions, so it did not hit her career too hard. After retiring she married in the U.S. and is currently a gymnastics teacher there, hopefully under her own name.

Many Believe That 2002 Kings vs Lakers Playoff Game Was Rigged

The 2002 NBA game that went down between the Sacramento Kings and the L.A. Lakers is considered one of the most controversial in the history of basketball. Some, including a few sports writers have even called the game “scandalous” and “rigged.” Throughout the game it appeared that the refs showed a sharp bias toward making calls that favored the Lakers.

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Image: Sports Finding

For example, all the Kings’ big huge guys (players that are especially good at stopping balls from reaching the basket) were absolutely plagued by foul calls. At the same time, it seemed that the Lakers could do no wrong. The famous sports columnist called some of the calls “stunningly incorrect.” Since calls are, after all, the subjective decisions of the refs, no investigation ever happened, but many suspected rigging.

The Puerto Doping Scandal Burned Some Careers to the Ground

When we of the Puerto Doping Scandal, it sounds like something out of a creepy movie. In March 2004 a Spanish newspaper interviewed a cyclist who exposed a doping scheme in his former team. When the investigation got into it, it came to light that athletes across multiple sports were suspected of being involved. Those that were implicated, which included were suspected of using performance enhancers.

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Image: The Daily Telegraph

They were also suspected of “blood doping.” It’s when you get blood transfusions of blood enriched in red blood cells, which also helps performance. The doping was traced back to Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, and tons of bags of blood were found in his office. He was charged and it was the beginning of the end of his career. Numerous athletes also were punished by bans and suspensions.

Pete Rose’s Baseball Career Ended But His Gambling Career Continued

Pete Rose is one of the best known baseball players from MLB. He played from 1963 to 1986. He is still the king in terms of most hits ever in the MLB? He has won many awards, including several World Series rings. After retiring as a player, he started managing The Cincinnati Reds. During the 1980s he gambled on baseball, which, of course, is completely illegal.

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Image: The Wall Street Journal

At first, Pete denied it, although he later admitted it in his autobiography. In 1989 Peter was put on baseball’s ineligible list, which he accepted, thus ending his baseball career. In 2015, Pete tried to get removed from the list but was not approved due to him still (!) betting on baseball. So in addition to being one of the best MLB has ever seen, he’s also a serial illegal gambler who just keeps going.

Despite a Couple of Scandals, Vijay Singh’s Golf Career Flourished

Is Tiger Woods the most scandalous golfer? We also need to consider another candidate: Vijay Singh. In 1985, when Singh was just a young guy he was struggling to make the cut for a pro golf tournament at the beginning of his career. How did he make the cut? Somehow – and people still dispute how purposeful his actions were – he managed to shave one stroke off of his scorecard. He said he thought was correcting the card.

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Image: GOLF

Due to the one less stroke, he made the cut and played the tournament, doing well. After the incident, he was banned for a while from pro golf. But he eventually came back and killed it, reestablishing himself as a force to be reckoned with in golf. Years later, he was involved in another scandal. This time he admitted to taking deer antler spray, which is supposed to improve muscle growth. Again, he said it was not on purpose.

After her Huge Figure Skating Scandal, Tonya Harding Became a Boxer

Just remember, this scandal is so big and so extreme that it was even made into a 2017 movie called I, Tonya. After a practice session at the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit, Nancy Kerrigan (brunette) was assaulted by a man armed with a police baton. So right before the championship, she sustained an injury to her leg. The attack was planned by the ex-husband of rival skater Tonya Harding (blond).

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Image: Time Magazine

The goal of the attack was to stop Kerrigan from competing. Tonya went on to win the competition and Kerrigan got an honorary second-place despite her not participating. After an investigation, the ex-husband went to jail, and Harding accepted a plea bargain and a life-time ban on figure skating competitively. The assailant, Shane Stant also went to jail. Years later, Harding would resume her sports career, this time as a boxer.

SMU’s Football Team Received the Notorious ‘Death Penalty’

The National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) harshest penalty imposed on a college football team is ominously dubbed ‘the death penalty.’ It refers to the penalty of a school getting its entire season (football in this case) canceled for at least one whole year. This is the fate that famously befell the Southern Methodist University team in 1986.

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Image: Time

It was discovered that the team management maintained a ‘slush fund,’ money that’s used to incentivize players to join the team, which is highly illegal since it’s college football and not pro football. SMU got the death penalty and it completely shattered the team. In fact, the team temporarily ceased to exist. Many were critical of the harsh punishment. Over the years, SMU got back on its football feet, but the scandal has left a bad legacy.

After “Selling” Soccer Matches, Italian Players Face Jail and Bans

1980 Totonero is a grotesque fixing scandal that happened in Italy. A couple of shopkeepers in Rome complained to authorities that they suspected there was major cheating going on in the Italian league. They claimed that they overheard of few pro players that were “selling” soccer matches. This means that if someone paid them the right amount of money, they would intentionally play really badly.

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Image: FOOTY FAIR

When the police investigated, the found that indeed, a bunch of people were guilty of selling games and they arrested a total of 12 people. The players involved also received suspensions, some for months, and some for years, depending on their level of involvement. Some football clubs themselves were also charged. The scandal rocked the world of soccer.

At Least 89 MLB Players Were Caught Juicing

The Mitchell Report is a four-hundred page document that came out in 2007 detailing what might be the biggest doping scene in MLB history. It might even be a candidate for being one of the biggest doping scandals in all sports. Mainly through drug testing, document scrutiny, and interrogation, the report concluded that at least 89 MLB players were guilty of juicing.

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Image: Los Angeles Times (left) / National Public Radio (right)

The punishments that were dished out vary depending on how much and what kind of drugs each player took. Some received slaps on the wrist, others received heavy-handed bans and/or fines. Also, the report put the blame on the MLB community as a whole. As one guilty player said, “You’d have to live in Siberia to not know what’s going on.” The doping scandal was massive, but the MLB purged and recovered.

The People Behind the Turkish Football Scandals Were Acquitted

In 2011 scandal reared its ugly head in Turkey when a massive organized crime ring was uncovered in the country’s two top tier leagues. Different areas of the league turned out to be cesspools of criminal activity. Bribery, match fixing, fraud of all sorts, inside betting, were revealed. The Turkish system appointed a special authority court to handle the scandal and lots of people were sent to prison.

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Image: New York Daily News

A few years later, however, due to changes in the Turkish legal system and the abolishment of special authority courts, all people that were implicated and sent to prison were pardoned. Just like that, with a wave of a legal wand, the scandalizers moved on. The football clubs were hit the hardest were even compensated, sometimes millions of euros.

After Cheating, Antonio Margarito Got Demolished in the Ring When He Returned

In 2009, just before Antonio Margarito’s (below) boxing match against Shane Mosley, the latter’s trainer sat in to carefully observe how Margarito’s team wrapped his gloves. In disbelief, he noticed that they used a substance called “plaster of Paris.” It’s a super hard casting material, similar to what is used on broken bones. When the material comes into contact with water (including sweat, from exertion), it hardens and becomes rock solid.

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Image: Bad Left Hook

Mosley’s coach (Naazim Richardson) instantly reported it. An investigation ensued and Margarito was suspended for a year. Now people understood how he demolished his previous opponent so badly. A year later, after Margarito returned, he had a rematch against the opponent he destroyed. And, this time (without the hard plaster under his gloves), deservedly, Margarito got absolutely battered.

After Scandal and a Sore Arm, Almonte Didn’t Continue in Baseball

Danny Almonte, equipped with a rocket launcher for an arm, became a huge star when he led his Bronx team to the Little League Baseball World Series. Small in stature but unprecedented in speed, he could throw a ball at 76 miles per hour, which is insane for Little League. When journalists took an interest, they uncovered a birth certificate that was incongruent with the age Almonte was believed to be.

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Image: USA Today

The reporting triggered an investigation by the Little League and it became clear that Amonte was indeed two years above the Little League age cut-off. As a youth, he didn’t face repercussions, but the scandal in conjunction with a chronically sore arm made him give up any aspirations to play in the major league.

Tiger Woods Survived His Serial Cheating Scandal But Is No Longer Hitched

At age 33, Tiger Woods was at the top. One of the best golfers the world has ever seen and a truly American success story. And he was married to a charming model from Sweden, the mother of his kids. But on Thanksgiving in 2009, everything changed. A story broke about Woods having an affair with a club hostess from New York. Woods’s wife, Elin Nordegren, went through his phone and found the woman’s name there; Rachel Uchitel.

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Image: The Sun

Woods denied everything and put his wife on the phone with Uchitel, the latter telling the former nothing was going on. But Nordegren wasn’t satisfied. More phone searches revealed more incriminating evidence of infidelity. In the end, it turns out that Woods was a serial cheater. His wife divorced him in 2010, he took a lot of fire and underwent a lot of shame, but his career is still intact today.