(Clockwise from bottom left): Sepp Blatter, Lance Armstrong, Serena Williams and Mohammad Amir.
(Clockwise from bottom left): Sepp Blatter, Lance Armstrong, Serena Williams and Mohammad Amir.

Top 10 world sporting scandals of the decade

There has been no shortage of sporting scandals for sports fans to sink their teeth into over the past decade.

These shocking events have embroiled a multitude of sports and have happened in all corners in the globe.

Here are our top 10.



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The lies, the denials, the Oprah interview. Lance Armstrong's remarkable fall from grace was undoubtedly the sporting scandal of the decade. The way in which the American came back from cancer to win seven Tour de France titles captivated the world. Although, accusations of doping were never far away, which he repeatedly denied. Then USADA discovered he had engaged in a highly sophisticated doping campaign from 1998 onward. Following their report, he was stripped of all results and awards from that time forward. Then there was the infamous Oprah interview, where he confessed to using banned performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career, including EPO, HGH and blood doping. To this day, Armstrong remains convinced he won his jerseys fairly, inferring all his competitors were doping and he had levelled the playing field.

Lance Armstrong was stripped of all results and awards from 1998 onward.
Lance Armstrong was stripped of all results and awards from 1998 onward.




The football world was stunned in 2010 when Qatar was awarded the 2022 FIFA World Cup. There have been bribery accusations and concerns about the heat has meant the tournament will be moved to winter. Prominent English football analyst Henry Winter summed up the mood in London's Daily Telegraph: "The real scandal in FIFA-ville was the decision to award the 2022 tournament to Qatar, a soulless, featureless, airconditioned, cramped place with so little connection to football it required hired hands like Pep Guardiola. It was as if FIFA were saying 'to hell with the fans'. Qatar 2022 will be a joyless experience for supporters." The decision to award the World Cup to Qatar partially led to the end of Sepp Blatter's long and controversial reign at FIFA in 2015. Fast forward to now, three years out from the World Cup, and there have also been allegations of horrible working conditions and slavery in the construction of its new stadiums.


Sepp Blatter’s decision to award the World Cup to Qatar ultimately led to the end of his reign. Picture: AP
Sepp Blatter’s decision to award the World Cup to Qatar ultimately led to the end of his reign. Picture: AP




It may not have reached the furore of the Australian ball tampering scandal years later, but the Pakistan spot-fixing incident still caused a big uproar. In 2010, three Pakistan players - team captain Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir - were accused of involvement in a spot-fixing scheme in which they allegedly accepted large sums of money to influence specific events within a match, as opposed to an actual match result. After an investigation, the ICC banned all three from the sport for periods from five to 10 years. Later, Butt and Asif were tried in a London court and found guilty of charges related to the scheme, while Amir pleaded guilty to similar charges in the same court. All received prison sentences ranging from 6 to 30 months.


Mohammad Amir was found guilty of spot fixing.
Mohammad Amir was found guilty of spot fixing.








It was getting close to the 2016 Rio Games, when WADA dropped a bombshell. An independent investigation concluded that it was shown "beyond a reasonable doubt" that Russia had "operated for the protection of doped Russian athletes" within a "state-directed failsafe system" using "the disappearing positive (test) methodology". Based on these findings, the IOC called an emergency meeting to consider banning Russia from the Games. The IOC controversially rejected the WADA recommendation, announcing that a decision would be made by each sport federation with each positive decision having to be approved by a CAS arbitrator. The IOC cleared 278 athletes, while 111 were removed from the Games. Then the International Paralympic Committee voted unanimously to ban the entire Russian Paralympic team from the Games.





The NFL never seems to be short of a scandal, but when there is one that involves the New England Patriots and Tom Brady, it seems to go to another level. That was certainly the case in 2015, when the Patriots were accused of deflating footballs in their AFC Championship win that sent them to the Super Bowl. After the game, the beaten Colts complained that some of the game balls were underinflated, which made them easier to catch and throw in the wet weather. Brady said he was innocent and then led the Pats to Super Bowl glory a few weeks later. A post-season NFL report concluded it was "more probable than not" that Patriots personnel intentionally deflated footballs and that Brady was "at least generally aware." He was suspended for four games, which was later thrown out after Brady took it to court.




Serena Williams is arguably the greatest tennis player of all time. She also has been known to experience some world class meltdowns across the journey. The biggest has to be the 2018 US Open Final against Naomi Osaka. Battling to get back in the match against the 20-year-old, Williams was incensed to be warned for receiving coaching from her box. A conversation at the changeover appeared to calm the situation down, but Williams was further infuriated when she was docked a point for a second violation after smashing her racquet in frustration at dropping serve. She proceeded to call chair umpire Carlos Ramos a "thief".

Broken again to trail 4-3, Williams continued to berate umpire Ramos.

"You will never, ever, ever be on another court of mine," she fumed.

"You are the liar,'"

It prompted Ramos to issue another violation and dock her a game, leading to a straight set defeat in front of a shocked Flushing Meadows crowd.

Only the closing scene of Osaka hiding her tears while cradling her first grand slam trophy was enough to calm Williams down.







The Russian star shocked the tennis world in 2016 when she announced she had failed a drug test during that year's Australian Open. The five-time grand slam winner tested positive for banned substance Meldonium, an anti-ischaemic drug that increases exercise capacity in athletes. Sharapova claimed she had been taking the drug for 10 years because of a magnesium deficiency and family history of diabetes. The International Tennis Federation was not convinced, with the former world No. 1 handed a two-year ban which was later reduced to nine months. Since her return, the 32-year-old has not won another grand slam.






It was the biting incident that soured the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Uruguay star and former Liverpool player Luis Suarez was banned for nine matches and four months for biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini during the tournament. He later apologised to Chiellini for the incident. He said: "I deeply regret what occurred, I apologise to Giorgio Chiellini and the entire football family. I vow to the public that there will never again be another incident like this." To make matters worse, Suarez already had form in this area. He had previously been involved in two other biting scandals - first for biting PSV's Otman Bakkal while playing for Ajax in 2010, and also for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic in April 2013.





During the 2016 Rio Olympics, 12-time Olympic medallist Ryan Lochte claimed he and his three teammates were robbed at gunpoint at night outside the Olympic village. It shocked the world, but the story turned out to be completely false. An investigation by the Brazilian police revealed the American swimming star fabricated his claims. A CCTV footage showed the four swimmers, in fact, vandalised a petrol station and got into a fight. Lochte was suspended for 10 months, while Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen were banned for four months.







It was one of the more bizarre sporting scandals of the decade. Philadelphia 76ers president Bryan Colangelo, the man who drafted Australian Ben Simmons, and his wife Barbara Bottini were found to be behind multiple burner Twitter accounts, which were used to defend the basketball executive and criticise members of his own NBA team, including star Joel Embiid. Colangelo initially denied any knowledge of the accounts, but later resigned from his role with the 76ers.