Australian sport has been rocked by a new cheating scandal surrounding Steve Smith and the Australian Cricket team. In what has been an extremely dark hour for sport in general, the Australian captain has admitted to working with Cameron Bancroft and ball tampering in an attempt to cheat during the test in South Africa.
The event has proved extremely embarrassing for all involved, and has dominated the news cycle for the past 24 hours. While sport is one of the greatest vehicles to bring us all together in the spirit of healthy competition, sometimes the drive to triumph defeats morals and ethics.
In light of Cricket Australia’s latest PR disaster, we look back at some of recent history’s biggest sporting scandals and the impacts they’ve had on sporting culture.
Probably the biggest scandal to hit modern sport is the revelation of doping by 7-time Tour winner, Lance Armstrong. Whilst allegations had swirled for years, Armstrong was strong in his denial of any wrong doing, even swearing under oath that he was clean.
Armstrong was eventually forced to come clean in an infamous interview with Oprah Winfrey, after the US Anti-Doping Agency applied pressure suggesting he was behind the “most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program” sport had ever seen. This story held extra sting given Armstrong’s comeback following testicular cancer, and the wave of hope that was provided by the narrative. However Lance’s achievements were stripped from him, and he now has a lifetime ban on competition.
Tiger Woods was the golden boy of golf, the greatest of all time, and one of the most marketable sportsmen of our era. Then came 2009. A car crash was the straw that broke the camels back, leading to the revelation of over a dozen affairs, and a bitter divorce. The personal troubles had a significant impact on his golf, and Tiger is only now on the way to getting his golf game back on track, although his legacy will unlikely live up to the potential it held back in the day.
While not strictly sport related, many forget that OJ Simpson was an NFL star before his acting days, and of course the time of his infamous Bronco highway chase. The chase overshadowed the NBA final being played at the time, as Simpson hit the road to run from police following a horrific double murder. Simpson was later acquitted of the charges in one of the most watched trials of all time. OJ was jailed years later however on robbery charges.
Now the subject of hit movie I, Tonya, the scandal surrounding the lead up to the 1994 Winter Olympics saw Tonya Harding and her co-conspirators attack rival Nancy Kerrigan with a club, injuring her leg. Following training, Kerrigan was struck with the intention of ending her season on the ice, paving the way for Harding’s Olympic triumph. The attack didn’t go according to plan however, with Harding finishing 8th, and Kerrigan taking silver, despite the injury.
On Valentine’s Day 2013, Paralympic athletic champion Pistorius (aka “Bladerunner”) opened fire on his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, in what he claimed was self-defense. According to Pistorius, he had thought Steenkamp was an intruder, however after a lengthy trial, and subsequent appeal in 2015, he was found guilty of murder, and is currently serving a 13-year jail sentence.
TODD CARNEY – Honourable Mention
Although not necessarily shocking the whole world, Australian sport has seen it’s fair share of scandal. While a countdown could be sole dedicated to our football codes, one of the most memorable memories goes to NRL’s Todd Carney. Known for run-ins with the law off field, Cronulla Sharks player Todd Carney got caught up in a scandal that introduced “bubbling” into our local vocabulary. Pictures surfaced of Carney urinating in his own mouth in a public bathroom, resulting in an end to his NRL career in 2014. It’s only recently that discussions have been floated of a possible return to the code.