Top 10 Sports Cheating Scandals
This list has been compiled of incidents within the past 20 years and does not include doping of any kind. Please keep that in mind before you comment and ask where your favorite scandal is. Doping seems to be all that we hear about anymore, but there are many other forms of cheating in sports, and this list aims to highlight that. The criteria I used to order the list were most infamous and most important. I have also focused on the most infamous example of each type of cheating, but did include other related scandals to acknowledge that similar incidents have occurred. Please feel free to argue with the list in the comments section below, and enjoy.
#10 : 2000 – Spanish Paralympic Basketball Team
At the 2000 Summer Paralympics in Sydney, Spain was stripped of its gold medal in intellectual disability basketball after it was discovered that 10 of the 12 competitors for the winning team were not disabled. The athletes had not been given the required mental tests and The Spanish Federation for Mentally Handicapped Sports had deliberately chosen to sign up athletes who were not intellectually disabled in order to “win medals and gain more sponsorship.”
Related Scandal : Paralympic Cheating
#9 : 1994 – Arizona State Point Shaving Scandal
The 1994 Arizona State Basketball Team was the subject of one of the worst point shaving scandals in recent memory. Benjamin Silman of New York, a former student turned campus bookmaker, was jailed for masterminding the point shaving scandal at ASU. In 1998 Silman pled guilty to charges that he bribed college basketball players Stevin “Hedake” Smith and Isaac Burton to ensure the Sun Devils did not “cover the allotted spread” in four end of season basketball games during the 1994 season. He was sentenced to just under four years in a federal prison after pleading guilty to fixing Arizona State basketball games in exchange for money from gamblers. A total of $568,000 was wagered by professional sports handicappers on the approval of Silman.
#8 : 1988 – Roy Jones Jr. in Seoul Olympics
Roy Jones Jr. represented the United States at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games where he won the silver medal. Jones dominated his opponents, never losing a single round en route to the final. His participation in the final proved to be hugely controversial when he lost a highly disputed 3-2 decision. Jones lost to South Korean fighter Park Si-Hun, despite pummeling Park for three rounds, landing 86 punches to Park’s 32. Allegedly, Park himself apologized to Jones afterwards. One judge shortly thereafter admitted the decision was a mistake, and all three judges voting against Jones were eventually suspended. An official IOC investigation concluding in 1997 found that three of the judges were wined and dined by Korean officials, but the IOC still officially stands by the decision. – Video
Related Scandal : Salé & Pelletier
#7 : 2006 – Kenny Rogers – WS Ball Doctoring
Kenny Rogers was the starting pitcher of Game 2 of the 2006 World Series. During the first inning, FOX cameras caught a smudge on Rogers’s pitching hand. Rogers said it was dirt mixed with rosin from the rosin bag, wiped it off and pitched 8 scoreless innings for the win. Major League Baseball spokesperson Rich Levin said the incident was investigated, and the substance was described as dirt. Since it was not ruled to be a foreign substance, per Rule 8.02, Rogers remained in the game. In the process, Rogers extended his streak to 23 shutout innings. Examination of images from previous games has revealed similar smudges in two other games.
“It was so blatant,” Cardinals hitting coach Hal McRae said. “What was so strange about it was how obvious it was, in the World Series. It’s a shame a guy would cheat in a World Series game. It hurts the integrity of the game. He wasn’t just cheating by using pine tar; he was scuffing balls, too. We collected about five or six balls that are scuffed. He had to be using his fingernails or something.” – Video
#6 : 1994 – Albert Belle – “Batgate”
On July 15, 1994, Albert Belle’s bat was confiscated by umpire Dave Phillips after White Sox manager Gene Lamont voiced his suspicion that the bat was corked. The Indians knew it was corked, and set out to replace the bat, which Phillips had put in his locker. During the game, Indians pitcher Jason Grimsley (yes that Jason Grimsley) wriggled through a crawl space above the ceiling above the umpires’ locker room, dropped through an escape hatch, and replaced the corked model with a conventional one. But the caper was easily found out — the faux Belle model Grimsley had put in Phillips locker had Paul Sorrento’s name on it. Belle was suspended for seven games. In his autobiography, former Belle teammate Omar Vizquel wrote about the “Batgate” incident: “I can be naive at times, but I’m not stupid. Certainly not stupid enough to steal Albert’s corked bat and replace it with one that looked completely different — one that was autographed by Paul Sorrento. That wasn’t even a nice try. The problem, of course, was that all of Albert’s bats were corked.”
Related Scandal : Sammy Sosa
#5 : 2001 – Danny Almonte in LLWS
Danny Almonte, the star pitcher of a Little League team from the Bronx, N.Y., pitched his squad into the Little League World Series in 2001, where he threw a perfect game. With his high leg kick and a 76 mph fastball (the equivalent of a 103 mph major-league fastball), the 5-foot-8 Danny soon became a national sensation. However, Danny’s imposing appearance and command on the mound led to rumors that he was more than 12 years old. After the Little League World Series, Sports Illustrated reporters found discrepancies in Almonte’s birth records. On August 31, Dominican officials announced that Danny had in fact been born in 1987, making him 14 years old, and two years older than the Little League age limit. His team, the Rolando Paulino All-Stars, was stripped of its district, state and region titles and of its third-place finish at the Series.
Related Scandal : Chinese Gymnastics Team
#4 : 1997 – Mike Tyson biting Holyfield’s Ear
Mike Tyson met Evander Holyfield in the ring for the second time on June 28, 1997. Problems started when a clash of heads in the second round opened a large cut over Tyson’s right eye. Tyson had repeatedly complained about head butting in the first bout between the two. As the third round was about to begin, Tyson came out of his corner without his mouthpiece. Referee Mills Lane ordered Tyson back to his corner to insert it. Tyson inserted his mouthpiece, got back into position and the match resumed. Suddenly Holyfield got Tyson in a clinch, and Tyson rolled his head above Holyfield’s shoulder and bit Holyfield’s right ear, taking a piece off of it with the force of the bite. The fight was delayed for several minutes as Lane told Tyson he was penalizing him with a two-point deduction. A physician examined Holyfield’s ear and determined he could continue to fight.
After another clinch, Tyson bit Holyfield’s left ear. Holyfield threw his hands around to get out of the clinch and jumped back. Lane did not stop the fight this time, so the two men continued fighting until time expired. The men walked back to their respective corners when the fight was then stopped. After the fight was stopped, Tyson ran at Holyfield and Holyfield’s trainer Brooks while they were still in their corner. Tyson took swings at the people in his way, but was pushed back to his corner. Announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. read the decision: “Referee Mills Lane has disqualified Mike Tyson for biting Evander Holyfield on both of his ears.” Tyson was suspended and his license withheld. -Video
#3 : 2007 – Tim Donaghy Gambling Scandal
Tim Donaghy is a former professional basketball referee who worked in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for 13 seasons from 1994 to 2007. On July 20, 2007, a report of an investigation by the FBI into allegations of an NBA referee betting on games to control the point spread emerged by columnist Murray Weiss of the New York Post. It was later revealed that Donaghy, who has a gambling problem, placed tens of thousands of dollars in bets on games during the 2005-06 NBA season and 2006-07 NBA season and had been approached by lower level mob associates to work on a gambling scheme. On July 29, 2008, Tim Donaghy was sentenced in Brooklyn federal court to 15 months (he had faced 33 months, but Judge Carol Amon gave him credit for his cooperation) in prison for setting off a gambling scandal that tarnished the league’s reputation and raised questions about the integrity of its officiating.
Related Scandal : Rick Tocchet
#2 : 2007 – Spygate – N.E. Patriots
“Spygate,” refers to an incident in the 2007 National Football League season when the New England Patriots were disciplined by the National Football League (NFL) for videotaping New York Jets’ defensive coaches’ signals during a September 9, 2007 game from a sideline location, an act deemed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to be in violation of league rules. After an investigation, the NFL fined Patriots head coach Bill Belichick $500,000 for his role in the incident, fined the Patriots $250,000, and docked the team their original first-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft. As part of their probe into the allegations, the NFL required the Patriots to turn over all notes and tapes relating to the taping of opponents’ defensive signals; the Patriots complied with the order and the NFL reviewed and then destroyed the materials.
Related Scandal : Laptopgate
#1 : 1994 – Tonya Harding – attack on Kerrigan
Tonya Harding, an American Figure Skater, is notorious for allegedly conspiring to harm competitor Nancy Kerrigan in an attack, which occurred on January 6, 1994 at a practice session during the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit. Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly and Shawn Eckhardt hired Shane Stant to strike Kerrigan on the knee. Harding won that event, while Kerrigan’s injury forced her withdrawal. After Harding admitted to helping to cover up the attack, the USFSA and United States Olympic Committee initiated proceedings to remove her from the 1994 Olympic team, but Harding retained her place after threatening legal action. She finished eighth, while Kerrigan, who recovered from her injuries, finished second. On June 30, 1994 after conducting its own investigation of the attack, the USFSA stripped Harding of her 1994 title and banned her for life from participating in USFSA-run events as either a skater or coach. The USFSA concluded that Harding knew about the attack before it happened and displayed “a clear disregard for fairness, good sportsmanship and ethical behavior”. – Video