The 4 Biggest Sports Scandals

AUSTIN, TX - JANUARY 14: In this handout photo provided by the Oprah Winfrey Network, Oprah Winfrey (R) speaks with Lance Armstrong during an interview regarding the controversy surrounding his cycling career January 14, 2013 in Austin, Texas. Oprah Winfrey’s exclusive no-holds-barred interview with Lance Armstrong, "Oprah and Lance Armstrong: The Worldwide Exclusive," has expanded to air as a two-night event on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. The special episode of "Oprah’s Next Chapter" will air Thursday, January 17 from 9-10:30 p.m. ET/PT (as previously announced) and Friday, January 18 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The interview will be simultaneously streamed LIVE worldwide both nights on (Photo by George Burns/Oprah Winfrey Network via Getty Images)

Because sports is a blend of money, pressure, ego and a compulsive quest for glory, it becomes a fertile ground for scandals to breed in. From the rich history of sports, we have witnessed some of the hugely deceitful sports scandals all over the globe.

Gambling on sports, for instance, has been tied to some scandalous events, with cases of match-fixing being the most notorious in the sports betting realm. While you may just be interested in the high octane tennis betting experience, it is sometimes important to know that not everyone in the field is a star. The most recent tennis-related scandal with match-fixing was in May 2020, which led to the lifetime ban of the Egyptian player Youssef Hossam.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the scandals that have rocked the competitive world of sports to the core. To relive some of the darkest and most shameful moments in sports, today’s post will highlight some sports icons who have tried to cheat the rules, either for reputation or financial gain.

The Biggest Sports Scandals

Spain’s Paralympic Basketball Team

Spain’s intellectually disabled basketball team won in the hearts of everyone when they beat Russia in their final tournament in the 2000 Summer Paralympic Games. But soon after the games ended, people became suspicious about the players. The team’s false triumph was cut short when some members of the public started to come up claiming that they never knew of any form of intellectual disability that some of the players had.

The whole story was then blown apart by one of the team members, Carlos Ribagorda who was a journalist by profession. As you may already know, it takes a massive intellect to be any kind of journalist, and Carlos disclosed that he had never been asked to take any form of brain assessment, leave alone an intellectual disability IQ test before enrolling. After investigations, it was later discovered that only two members of the 12 strong team were intellectually challenged, and that is how the team was instantly banned.

Nancy Kerrigan vs Tonya Harding

Many don’t expect the world of skating to be shady because it is such a tranquil game. Well, in January 1994, during a practice session, Nancy Kerrigan was attacked by a man with an Iron bar to prevent her from taking part in the National Championships and the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer. While she ended up missing the Championships, Kerrigan was still chosen for the Olympic team, and she had recovered in time to scoop the silver medal nonetheless.

It later emerged that Kerrigan’s assailant had been hired by Tonya Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly together with his bodyguard to break Kerrigan’s leg. Tonya was a fellow figure skater who won the National Championships after Kerrigan was out, and for the 1994 Olympics, Harding finished in 8th place compared to Kerrigan’s 2nd place. Till today, nobody knows if Harding was involved in the plot, but she certainly tried to conceal it, and this cost here her National Championship title and a lifetime ban from the organization.

Lance Armstrong

Everyone may have heard about this one already. Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace was painful in many ways for sports fanatics. The seven-time winner of Tour de France and a cancer survivor achieved legendary prestige in his career. Rumors about his seemingly herculean performance started circulating, and his fans refused to even consider the possibility of any wrongdoing on his part throughout his career.

For a decade, Lance consistently denied any doping misconduct with an almost messianic enthusiasm even when investigations were ongoing – making his confession on Oprah in 2013 even more shocking. The US Anti-doping Agency referred to the operation as the most successful doping program the world of sport has ever witnessed.

Hand of God

Of all scandals, this has been considered one of the funniest or one of the most outrageous, depending on who you ask. The vice took place in the Quarter Final match of the famed 1986 World Cup football tournament in Mexico City, where England and Argentina were playing against each other for the much-coveted World Cup trophy.

In the 51st minute of the game, Diego Maradona used his hand to tip the ball over the jumping goalkeeper Peter Shilton and scored. But somehow, the Tunisian referee of the match Ali Bin Nasser didn’t see it, and the goal was given. That is how England’s World Cup dream was shut down for another four years thanks to Maradona’s infamous ‘Hand of God’ –as he described the move after the match.

Maradona’s offence was discovered after the match but had it been noted by the referees during the game, the goal would have been disallowed, and he would have received a yellow card. Unfortunately, there was no VAR back then, a technology that ensures something like that can never go unnoticed again.

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