Sports has an extraordinary ability to capture the attention of the worldwide audience. The sheer joy of watching your favorite team win a game is incredible. From multi-sports events to the World Cup tournament, we witness a number of sporting extravaganza every year. While some sportspersons leave their fans spellbound due to their record-breaking performance, some put their admirers in great shock due to their engagement in unethical and immoral activities, such as doping, adultery, betting, ball tampering, and theft.
From Lance Armstrong's doping revelations to the White Sox deliberately losing the 1919 World Series, here are five biggest scandals in sports and how they were exposed.
1. The ‘Black Sox’ Scandal, 1919
Deemed as one of baseball’s darkest moments, this scandal concerned eight White Sox players who were accused of intentionally losing the 1919 Series of baseball to the Cincinnati Reds. A Chicago grand jury was set up in 1920 to investigate the dealings of the team with the gamblers. On September 28, 1920, two of the players, Eddie Cicotte and Shoeless Joe Jackson, confessed. The following month, the grand jury charged eight players of conspiracy and fraud and banned them from playing baseball for life. This scandal was dramatized in the 1988 film, Eight Men Out.
2. Spanish ID Basketball Team, Paralympic Games, 2000
Regarded as the greatest cheating scandal in Paralympic Games history, this event witnessed ten members of a Spanish Paralympic basketball team being stripped of their gold medals in December 2000 after it was discovered that they were not mentally challenged. Carlos Ribagorda, a member of the winning team and an undercover journalist, reported that his eligibility to play in the ID category had never been checked and accused Spain of selecting 15 athletes with no intellectual disabilities.
Due to serious impediment in determining the eligibility criteria for intellectually disabled athletes, the International Paralympic Committee announced to suspend all sporting activities that involve an ID. But, later in 2012, the committee revised the system for checking mental disabilities and allowed ID athletes to participate in the game.
3. Pakistan Cricket Spot-fixing Scandal, 2010
The spot-fixing betting scandal involved three members of Pakistan’s national cricket team - Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif, and Mohammad Amir who were found to have taken bribes from bookmaker Mazhar Majeed to intentionally underperform at certain times in a Test match at London’s Lord's Cricket Ground in 2010. This incident was uncovered when the undercover reporters secretly videotaped Majeed accepting money and informing the reporters that fast bowlers Asif and Amir would purposely bowl no-balls at specific points in an over.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) banned all three Pakistani players for terms of between five to ten years. Later in November 2011, a London court found Amir, Butt, Asif, and Majeed guilty on criminal charges relating to spot-fixing and sentenced them to prison, ranging from six months to 32 months.
4. Tiger Woods’ Disclosure of Having a Dozen Mistresses
The golden boy of golf and one of the highest-paid athletes in the world for several years, Tiger Woods was accused of having an extra-marital affair. Two days after the reports of his affair came out, he met with an accident and suffered facial injuries. Rumors and speculation about the crash and Woods' personal life became the talk of the town, and in the weeks that followed, Woods accepted of having affairs with a number of women. Over the next few days, many more women claimed in various media outlets of being involved with Woods. This led to his divorce with his wife, Elin Nordegren on a settlement of $750 million. His personal issues also created a serious impact on his million-dollar golf career.
5. Lance Armstrong’s Revelation of Doping
Considered as one of the greatest cyclists of all time, Lance Armstrong faces several accusations of doing performance-enhancing drugs during his career. However, the seven consecutive Tour de France title winner never tested positive or was caught. He even swore under oath that he was clean. But in an infamous interview with Oprah Winfrey, he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs when he rode for the U.S. Postal Service Pro-Cycling Team. This shocking revelation stripped him of his titles and banned him for the lifetime to participate in the competition.
These were some of the biggest scandals to have happened in the history of the sport. All these incidents didn’t only leave a black mark on the sporting career of famous athletes, but also came as a shock to all the sports enthusiasts. Hope you enjoyed reading this blog!
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