Tuesday Top 5 – Sporting Scandals

15th March, 2016

Sports are always in the news for some reason or another, with recent headlines about Maria Sharapova due to her failed drugs test for traces of meldonium being the latest in a long line of sporting scandals. She has had contracts suspended by some sponsors (Nike & Tag Heuer and Porsche to name but three) and has already got her legal team formed to fight the expected bans coming her way.

We have compiled the most notorious sporting scandals of recent history to show just how bad it can get when they try and hide the truth.

From doping to corruption, these are the top 5:

  1. Lance Armstrong - Everyone knows about the man who had all 7 of his Tour de France titles stripped due to long term blood doping and steroid use dating back to 1996. Armstrong was only found out in 2011-2012 when the United States Anti-Doping Agency accused him of doping and trafficking drugs. It took confessions from former team mates and pressure from his family to finally admit his guilt during an exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey. After holding on to his lies for over 10 years, I’m not even sure he went to the moon anymore (sorry Neil).

  2. BALCO - There have been multiple high profile doping scandals, but none have been as widespread as the BALCO scheme. Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, which was founded by Victor Conte, distributed steroids to all-star athletes. Conte ended up serving a 4 month prison sentence which was greatly reduced for giving up his customers, the likes of which were baseball’s Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi, gold medallist sprinter Marion Jones and four-time Super Bowl champion Bill Romanowski.

  3. NFL - The NFL’s biggest scandal (which has just had a film made on it) was the cover up of the effects of concussions in the sport. In 2002 Dr. Bennet Omalu identified Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in Mike Webster’s brain. This was combated by the NFL’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) Committee who said that NFL players are less susceptible to brain injury. Further to that in 2006 they claim that Dr Omalu used “fallacious reasoning” – this was after he had found CTE in other players’ brains. In 2007, the new MTBI chairman Dr. Casson repeatedly denied the link between head injuries and NFL players’ depression or dementia. It wasn’t until late 2009 that an NFL spokesman acknowledged the long term effects of concussions and announced that players with concussions will not be able to return to the field the same day. In 2013, after the filing of thousands of law suits against the NFL by retired players for withholding information about the dangers of football, the NFL agreed to pay $765 million to settle the lawsuit but doesn’t admit any wrong doing. This has been a drawn out and a still ongoing matter that is expected to cost the NFL over a billion dollars. A scandal of truly egregious proportions.

  4. FIFA - 2015 football occasions were overshadowed by the corruption at the highest level – the FIFA president, a character that was never to be believed, Sepp Blatter. FIFA was investigated by the FBI regarding wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering, being suspected of fixing who would host competitions and accepting multiple bribes. In the end, those involved have been punished. Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini both received an 8 year ban from all football activities. This, however, will not undo the shadows surrounding recent tournaments like the South Africa World Cup.

  5. Russian Athletics - The World Anti-Doping Association found that the Russian athletics federations had been involved in a widespread state sponsored doping scandal (could this all link to Maria?). They have been allegedly destroying hundreds of samples before inspection, intimidating doping testers, using false identities, bribes and extortion, plus the (not-so-) secret police inside the anti-doping laboratory. They have accepted a suspension but a council meeting in May will ultimately decide their fate over whether or not they will compete in the Rio Olympics.

We hope that this merry jaunt down memory lane has entertained you, but there are lessons that can be learnt from these mishandled management debacles. Stay tuned to Be Wiser Business as we will be posting a guide of ‘do’s and ‘don’t’s when it comes to dealing with PR nightmares.