15 Biggest Sports Controversies of All Time

POSTED BY , UPDATED ON February 11th, 2015

15 Biggest Sports Controversies of All Time

Being a sportsman or a professional athlete is not always about reflecting patriotism for your city or even country. Sometimes, such superstars make a bad choice that leads to the deterioration of not only their image but also of their sport as well. Let’s take a look at the 15 biggest sports controversies of all time involving athletes:


15. “Hand of God” Goal

Hand of God Goal

Football has many rules and if there is one rule that is known to even that person who has never played it is that hands cannot be used to touch the ball. What is known as the most controversial decision in the history of the sport, Argentina’s Diego Maradona scored a goal with his hand in a match against England in the 1986 FIFA World Cup.

The referee did not see the involvement of his hand during the goal and it was officially counted as one. The fans of the English team expressed their outrage and the goal added fuel to the fire between the rivalry of the two teams.


14. The Dirtiest Race in History

The Dirtiest Race in History

The 1988 Summer Olympics witnessed a unique but distasteful 100 meters race which has been dubbed as “The Dirtiest Race in History” and for a good reason too. Canadian Ben Johnson won the race in awe-inspiring 9.79 seconds. However, his drug test proved positive and the gold, silver and bronze medals were given to the runner ups respectively.

It may seem that justice was served but here is how “The Dirtiest Race in History” lives up to its name: only three of the eight participants showed a negative result in their drug test but their cases were dismissed due to their “inadvertent use.”


13. Kobe Bryant’s Sexual Assault

Kobe Bryant Sexual Assault

Only a very few Basketball players come close to the greatness of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant is one of them. With an amazing career with numerous accomplishments, it is however stained with a sexual assault case that involved a 19-year old hotel employee of the Lodge and Spa Hotel in Edwards, Colorado.

Bryant apologized for his actions but assured that the sexual encounter between the two was purely consensual and not an act of assault. Emotionally scarred but not for long, Bryant gradually recovered from the media attacks and soon established an amazing career.


12. Pakistan Cricket Spot-fixing

Pakistan Cricket Spot-fixing

Pakistan is a country that is divided by Islamic sects, political parties and provinces but united by cricket. So it is only imaginable the amount of hate given to its team players Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif and Captain Salman Butt for a spot-fixing scheme in a Test match.

Promised abundant wealth in exchange for underperforming in the match, the three sold their souls to the devil but were soon caught, leaving the International Cricket Council with no choice but to ban the three cricketers for 5 to 10 years.


11. 1994 US Figure Skating Controversy

1994 US Figure Skating Controversy

When figure skater Tonya Harding’s ex-husband and her bodyguard hired an assailant to break the leg of her strong rival Nancy Kerrigan, she knew that conquering the 1994 US Figure Skating Championship would be easy as pie. Things went according to plan and Harding won.

At least that was what she thought as investigations found out what happened and Harding emotionally plead guilty. Justice was served as she was soon stripped of her 1994 championship and received a heavy fine of $160,000, three years of probation and a ban from the sport.


10. 2007 NBA Betting Scandal

2007 NBA Betting Scandal

The referee might be an unnoticeable individual when it comes to a match but in reality, that role is the most important of all. The referee’s morality should be much higher than an average man and showcase utmost honesty while calling the match. Too bad NBA referee Tim Donoghy learned that the hard way.

Betting on the very games he officiated, Donoghy was revealed guilty as charged by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and that was just the start of NBA being mercilessly attacked on several news outlets. Betting on the outcome of games should be left purely to the fans, although fans can often have a very tough time finding the best odds for the games they want to make money from. However, online services such as BookmakerAdvisor aim to solve these issues by allowing comparison between all of the biggest bookmakers so that gamblers can always get the best odds.


9. Chris Benoit Double-Murder and Suicide

Chris Benoit Double-Murder and Suicide

Arguably the greatest technical wrestler of all time, Chris Benoit’s career shined like a diamond but the same could not be said about his personal life involving steroid abuse and a falling marriage.

In 2007, Benoit – alleged to be under the influence of brain damage and steroids – murdered his wife and son and then committed suicide. The heinous incident prompted Vince McMahon to ban chair shots to head and setup a wellness policy to eradicate drug usage.


8. BALCO Scandal

BALCO Scandal

It is a sad fact that drug usage has been a cause of huge plague in the esteemed profession of sports. That is where Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative comes in as it heavily supplied anabolic steroids and drugs disguised with code names to many athletes and sportsmen alike.

Once the US Federal Government Agency investigated the laboratory, the scandal stood out to be one of the biggest drug related humiliations in sports. The scandal badly affected the professional lives of various sportsmen, most notably Barry Bonds, one of the greatest Baseball players of all time.