From questionable wins to murder cases, these 11 athletic events shocked the world.
Michael Dub and Patty Hodapp 1 / 11
After years of angrily denying doping accusations (even under oath), 7-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, 41, admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs when he rode for the U.S. Postal Service Pro-Cycling Team, during an exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey. The fallout? Well, before he fessed up on camera, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency found "overwhelming" evidence that Armstrong spearheaded "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program." He was stripped of his titles and forbidden to compete. Now, Armstrong is under pressure to name other athlete accomplices, and pay back part of his $30 million sponsorship paycheck from the federal government. Not to mention, the reputation of his charity is basically shot to hell. Maybe he should trade his yellow bracelets for silver handcuffs.
It’s not every day that the NBA finals are overshadowed by a Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL star on the run from double murder charges. While acquitted during the most publicized trial of all time, years later OJ now sits in prison convicted of robbery.</p>
Baseball’s all time hits leader and manager of the Cincinnati Reds gets thrown out of the game for illegally betting on baseball (including games in which the Reds were playing). Years later Pete’s banishment still stands and Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame refuses to consider him for induction.</p>
On his way to becoming the greatest golfer of all time, 2009 saw a series of events that included a car accident, more than a dozen mistresses, divorce and therapy derail his career and personal life. Two years later Tiger is still trying to recapture his golf greatness and another Masters title.</p>
Baseball’s steroid era and the Mitchell Report gave us hulking players (Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds) who easily shattered Roger Maris’ and Hank Aaron’s home run records. In the wake of player admissions and denials, most have been tried in the court of public opinion and require the use of asterisks when analyzing their baseball accomplishments.</p>
Soviet Union Basketball Win over United States in 1972 Olympics
The US Men’s Basketball team had won every single game between 1936 and the 1972 final. Had it not been for a referee adding three seconds back on the clock, the US would have beaten Russia on this day as well. To date, the US team refuses to accept their Silver Medal from the ‘72 games and gave rise to the creation of US Olympic Basketball “Dream Teams.”
Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan
Seeking to eliminate her main rival leading up to the 1994 Olympics figure skating competition, Tonya Harding, her husband and others assaulted Nancy Kerrigan by striking her in the leg with a club during a skating practice session. Harding wound up finishing 8th at the Olympics, while Kerrigan took home the silver medal.
Penn State Sex Abuse
One of college football’s most celebrated programs and coaches failed to report and likely covered up when allegations of child molestation against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky surfaced. Fast forward, Coach Paterno has passed, Sandusky convicted and the NCAA imposed sanctions on Penn State including an unprecedented $60 million fine and the voiding of all of the football team's victories over its previous 14 seasons.
New Orleans Saints Bounty Program
“Bountygate” was a fund that rewarded Saints players with financial bonuses for inflicting injuries on opposing players that forced them to leave games. Following an NFL investigation, the Saints will play their 2012 season without their head coach, defensive coordinator and key players who have all been suspended by commissioner Roger Goodell.
1918 Chicago Black Sox
In response to notoriously cheap team owner, Charles Comiskey, who leveraged loopholes in contracts and MLB laws to prevent playing his star players, eight members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox were banned from baseball for life for taking money from underworld figures to intentionally lose games (including the 1919 World Series). The scandal, which was also immortalized by the film <em>Eight Men Out</em>, remains one of baseball’s darkest and enduring moments.
SMU Death Penalty
To date this remains the most severe penalty handed down to any athletic program. Southern Methodist University’s entire 1987 schedule was cancelled due to massive violations of NCAA rules and regulations including slush funds and illegal payments to athletes for over a decade. Following the death penalty, the SMU Mustangs had only one winning season over the next 20 years.