The Top 5 Sports Scandals Of All Time

Top 5 Sports Scandals Of All Time

The Top 5 Sports Scandals Of All Time

As children, almost all of us have looked up to a sports personality or athlete. They seem larger than life figures. They live the ideal life, getting paid millions for something they love to do. But sometimes, we come to realize that some of them aren't these perfect, faultless human being that we've built them up to be in our heads, far from it actually, because sometimes, corruption creeps into the picture. Even the best fall, so here are some of the most famous sports scandals of all time. While there are plenty of horrible scandals that have rocked the sporting world, some of which even involve cases of child molestation and murder, this article explores ones that involved directly or indirectly tampering with the outcome of the sport.

Lance Armstrong

Probably one of the best-known doping scandals, Lance Armstrong's career was indeed a fall from grace. Armstrong was an inspiration to many. He set up his cancer research foundation after beating the debilitating disease, and he was a great cyclist. He won seven consecutive Tour De France titles, and you could see his little Livestrong armbands almost everywhere.

But, ever since his career took off after his recovery, he has been the brunt of several doping accusations, all of which he vehemently denied for years, despite several federal investigations into the matter, most of which were dropped due to lack of evidence.

Finally in 2012, a year after his retirement, when the United States Anti-Doping Agency filed a lawsuit against him, Armstrong declared that he would no longer fight any doping charges. In 2013, with an interview with Oprah, he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career, namely EPO, HGH, blood thinners, amphetamines, cortisone, and testosterone. He was stripped of his seven Tour De France titles as well as his Olympic silver medal and was banned for life. His stint was said to be “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”

Tonya Harding

Most would associate figure skaters with skill and grace, and not aggravated assault. Tonya Harding's story, you may have already heard, is quite different. In the 1980s Harding quickly made a name for herself in the world of figure skating, winning several national championships. She reached her peak in 1991, when she became the American first woman ever to land the triple axel, quite a difficult move to pull off. It was at this point, however, that her career slowly began to decline. It was a few years later when she was involved in one of the most talked about sports scandals on American history.

One of Harding's most prominent conditions was Nancy Kerrigan, another figure skater who was just as talented as Harding. Kerrigan, however, was always more commercially successful, due to her more family-friendly persona. The two were prepping for the 1994 US Women's Championship. The winner would go on to compete in the Winter Olympics, which was to be held in the same year. On the 6th of January, one day before the competition was to take place, Kerrigan was attacked. She was struck on the knee with a police baton. The entire incident was caught on tape. She was severely bruised and forced to withdraw from the competition. It was later found that the assailant was Shane Stant, hired by Harding's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly.

Harding went on to win the competition, and Kerrigan and her both were selected for the Olympic team. When the news broke of that had happened to Kerrigan and a few months after the incident, the Figure Skating Association declared that Harding had violated the codes of conduct, and she was later found guilty of conspiracy to hinder prosecution. She was sentenced to three years of probation, a $100,000 fine and five hundred hours of community service.

Harding was stripped of her championship title, but she was allowed to compete in the Olympics, where she placed 8th. Stant, Gillooly and the two other men involved in the assault maintained that Harding knew about the attack beforehand, but she, until today, claims she is innocent.

Black Sox Match Fixing Scandal

This one is so big that it had been the focus of, or alluded to, in numerous movies, books and TV shows throughout the years - The Godfather, Mad Men, and The Great Gatsby to name a few. Eight members of the Chicago White Sox were found to have conspired with gambling syndicates led by mobster Arnold Rothstein during the 1919 World Series. They were accused of intentionally throwing the game against the Cincinnati Reds for a large amount of money.

At this time, they were one of the best teams in the business and had even won the World Series in 1917. The only issue was that they had a problematic owner, Charles Comiskey. Back then, it was easy for gambling syndicates to exploit players, because most were grossly underpaid. Just before the game, rumors began to spread that the game was fixed.

In 1920, the grand jury of Chicago launched an investigation into the matter. After a few players confessed, all eight of the accused were permanently banned from baseball, including Joseph Jefferson Jackson, commonly known as Shoeless Joe Jackson, who was an exceptional player and at the peak of his performance when the allegations emerged.


Many believe that the Calciopoli scandal is marked as one of the darkest times in Italian football. Fans still have a hard time wrapping their heads around the events that took place. It was a scandal that involved some of Italy's best clubs, including Juventus, Fiorentina, AC Milan and Lazio among others.

Juve has consistently been one of the most successful clubs in Serie A, winning several consecutive titles, which is why it's so hard to believe that they were tied up in this. In 2006, the club was already being investigated due to doping allegations. This lead to the discovery of something much bigger - the Calciopoli. Wiretaps revealed that several phone conversations between top executives and referee organizations. It was found that Luciano Moggi, Juve's general manager, and Antonio Giraudo, their sporting director, had made attempts to influence referee appointments. They would pick referees that would be partial to the team, and therefore, alter the outcome of the matches. It was found that other teams, such as Fiorentina, Reggina, and Lazio, also took advantage of this system. Stefano Palazzi, the prosecutor, involved called for all the clubs involved to be expelled from Serie A.

Juventus was handed the worst punishment. Arguably one of the best teams in Italian football, and maybe even the world, were relegated to a lower division, Serie B. They were stripped of their titles from their 2004 - 05 and 2005 - 06 seasons, and were also given a 9 point deduction and a €75,000 fine. Fiorentina was given 15 point deduction and was banned from the 2006 - 2007 Champions League. Lazio lost 3 points and was barred from the UEFA Cup. In addition to a €100,000 fine, Reggina lost 11 points, and their president, Pasquale Foti was banned from football for two and a half years. Milan lost 8 points, and 30 points were deducted from their 2005 - 06 Serie A Championship, and they had to play one game behind closed doors.

Juventus was expected to struggle in Serie B, as several players had walked away from the team. But they managed to win the season and were promoted to Serie A for their next campaign.

Moggi received a permanent ban from football, and various other officials were either given jail time, short bans or fines.

Formula One Spygate Scandal

When it comes to Formula One, along with the skill of a driver, the outcome of a race has a lot to do with the car itself. Automobile engineerings painstakingly strive to develop the most efficient race car possible, to give their drivers an edge over others. This is what makes Spygate the biggest scandals in Formula One racing. There are a few restrictions on what can be done to a Formula One car, and large sums of money are blown to engineer the fastest, sleekest, most aerodynamic racing machines possible.

Given how important the design of the car and even the helmet is, teams continuously keep track of their competition, repeatedly trying to gain some insider information, usually through acceptable, harmless methods. But in 2007, news broke that McLaren, the top-ranked team at the time, had managed to obtain hundreds of documents of classified information. They had 780 pages worth of details on Formula One Ferrari cars, everything from schematic drawings to financial data.

The story of how they were caught is just as wild as the information they had. Trudy Coughlan, the wife of Michael Coughlan, chief designer of McLaren's Formula One racing team, on one fine day, walked to Document Image Processing, a copy shop in Surrey County, with a giant stack of paper, and asked the clerk to digitize them. Unfortunately for her, the clerk was an avid racing fan who loved Ferrari. He immediately informed Stefano Domenicali, who then told security.

The Ferrari F1 team was one of the best, but in 2006, they slowly started to fall apart. Michael Schumacher and Ross Brawn had decided to part ways with the team, and this led to the reorganization of the structure. In 2007, Nigel Stepney, who formerly served as the head of the mechanical team, was appointed as the head of Performance Development. Reportedly, he was unhappy with the new structure of the team. The same year, Stepney was found attempting to sabotage the Ferrari's F1 cars, by adding a powdered substance into their fuel tanks. A short while later, Ferrari received those emails from the copy clerk. An investigation was launched, and it was clear that Stepney had leaked confidential information to Ferrari's biggest rivals - McLaren. Stepheny conspired with Michael Coughlan, a former Ferrari employee who worked on the McLaren design team, giving him all the information he wanted. When the news broke, Coughlan was suspended, and Stepney was fired. McLaren was fined $100m and stripped of constructors’ championship title.


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