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5 Biggest Scandals in Sports History

5 Biggest Scandals in Sports History

With strict rules and regulatory bodies constant, and more cameras capturing every move, on and off the sports field today, analysing and checking the legitimacy of every move, cheating is a near impossibility.

However, a scandal has erupted in the chess world as 19-year-old rising chess player Hans Neimann has been accused of cheating by world champion Magnus Carlsen. A Chess.com investigation has claimed it is “likely” Hans Neimann cheated in over 100 games.

With this in mind, the team at Betting.com have looked at five of the biggest scandals in sports history, many of them being reasons why rules in professional sports are so strict today. 

Rosie Ruiz’s Shortcut (1980)

Marathon runner Rosie Ruiz seemed like the clear victor of 1980’s Boston Marathon, and by no small amount either. Later, a combination of witnesses, different testimonies and finally the runner’s own admission clarified that she had, in fact, not run the course. Instead, she took a gigantic shortcut to finish the race.

The Hand of God (1986)

During the 1986 World Cup, Argentine Diego Maradona scored arguably the most controversial and scandalous goal in soccer history. The match was a quarterfinal encounter between Argentina and England.

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At 0-0 in the 51st minute, Maradona, considered the greatest footballer ever by many, received a pass in front of goal, and he proceeded to tap the ball in with his hand. The referee, Tunisian Ali Bin Nasser, did not blow his whistle, and the goal stood which led to Argentina winning the game before going on to win the tournament. Maradona later admitted to cheating and gave his hand the name “Hand of God.”

The ball that Maradona used to score this controversial goal with has recently gone up for auction, expecting to be sold for around £2.5 – 3 million.

The Bite Fight (1997) 

Evander Holyfield vs. Mike Tyson II, now often referred to as The Bite Fight, was a WBA Heavyweight Championship boxing match between Holyfield and Tyson. It achieved notoriety in sports as one of the most bizarre fights in boxing history, after Tyson used his teeth to bite off a part off Holyfield’s ear.

As a result of biting Holyfield on the ears, Tyson’s boxing licence was revoked by the Nevada State Athletic Commission and he was fined $3 million, plus legal fees. The revocation was not permanent however, as slightly more than a year later in 1998, the commission voted 4-1 to restore Tyson’s licence.

Rivaldo Dive (2002)

In the Japan World Cup in 2002, Brazil had a corner late in their group game against Turkey when Hakan Unsal fired the ball toward Rivaldo, who was delaying taking it. ​​Cameras showed the ball clearly hitting him in the knee, but despite this, Rivaldo clutched his face like he’d been punched, before dropping to the deck, leading to a red card for Unsal.

Perhaps the theatrics don’t seem so shocking today – but ‘simulation’ was a hot topic going into the 2002 World Cup. FIFA announced pre-tournament that they were cracking down on it, and Rivaldo became the first player punished under the new regulations with a £5,180 fine. 

Piquet Jr. Crash (2008)

In a race in 2008, Nelson Piquet Jr. had a significant crash with an opponent. It didn’t seem like such a big deal because in Formula 1, crashes, while dangerous, are also commonplace. Also known as “Crashgate,”  Piquet Jr.’s crash didn’t become scandalous until sometime after it occurred.

A while after the crash, Nelson pulled out of his team (Renault F1) and allegations surfaced that the crash was intentional, solely for the purpose of clearing other racers out of the way to help Fernando Alonso to victory in the race. Nelson came out and spoke to the FIA and claimed that it was true, and he had been asked by his coach to stage the crash.




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