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Top 10 Sports Scandals

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script by QV Hough This is all about the insider action outside of the game. Join as we count down our picks for the top 10 sports scandals. For this list, we're focusing on scandals in the sports world that contain elements of planning, concealing or even conspiracy, and we're excluding random acts or behaviors that reflect poorly on only one individual. Special thanks to our users Gamerchick21, arimazzie, Donald Reif and Jelissa Hernandez for submitting the idea at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Top 10 Sports Scandals

This is all about the insider action outside of the game. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 sports scandals.

For this list, we’re focusing on scandals in the sports world that contain elements of planning, concealing or even conspiracy, and we’re excluding random acts or behaviors that reflect poorly on only one individual.

#10: NFL Concussions

For years, it was a badge of honor for ex-NFL players to boast about the violent nature of their sport, but the narrative took a dark turn once retired athletes began experiencing symptoms of CTE – chronic traumatic encephalopathy. In 2011, Dave Duerson took his own life and requested that his brain be studied for trauma, and just one year later, Junior Seau also committed suicide and was confirmed to be suffering from CTE after a post-mortem examination. The NFL continues to adopt new regulations along with the NHL and their “enforcer” issue, but off-the-field problems, including domestic violence as evidenced by the Ray Rice case, continue to fuel the fire.

#9: Deflategate

Regardless of whether you’re pro-Tom Brady or a steadfast hater, Deflategate undoubtedly caused a storm of selective outrage in 2015. It all began during the AFC Championship Game when officials discovered that official game balls had been deflated, thus allowing Brady to get the upper hand. Two weeks later, the New England Patriots won another Super Bowl, and shortly after, the Wells Report concluded it was “probable” that Brady was complicit. Deflategate came over 7 years after another New England Patriots controversy known as Spygate, which means that SOMEBODY has some explaining to do, whomever that may be.

#8: Jerry Sandusky and Penn State

After 61 years with Penn State, you could say that Joe Paterno had a bit of clout on campus. But amid a disturbing sexual abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, Paterno’s legacy was forever tarnished and he passed away just two months after being fired. If you know the details, then you already know just how heartbreaking this story is for all involved. In fact, when Sandusky was convicted, the judge intentionally avoided an abstract sentence to reinforce the idea that 30 to 60 years in jail had, quote “the unmistakable impact of saying, clearly, for the rest of your life.”

#7: Melbourne Storm Salary Cap Breach

“We had some rats in our ranks.” Those were the words of Melbourne Storm owner John Hartigan after his team was involved in the biggest scandal of Australian sports history. The rugby squad had won premierships in both 2007 and 2009, and let’s just say that a few perks were offered beyond the usual contract negotiations. Some players were given under-the-table benefits that doubled their official contracts, and others received 30 large for home and entertainment expenses. In the end, Melbourne continued to win, but only after the largest sanctions in league history and a stripping of their titles.

#6: Tim Donaghy and the 2007 NBA Betting Scandal

We all know somebody who thinks the NBA is rigged, and after former basketball referee Tim Donaghy was convicted of fixing games, the conspiracy theorists snickered with laughter. From 2005 to 2007, Donaghy bet thousands of dollars on games he personally officiated and later received kickbacks from low-level mafia figures. Oh yeah, he also worked the infamous 2004 Indiana-Detroit game that resulted in one of the darkest moments in league history, also known as the Malice at the Palace. Donaghy was one sketchy ref and after serving 11 months in prison, he naturally wrote a book about his experiences.

#5: Lance Armstrong Doping Allegations

He was the golden boy of cycling, at least until he began throwing everyone under his wheels. In one of the most astonishing cases of egocentric behavior the sports world has ever seen, Lance Armstrong furiously denied using performance-enhancing drugs after winning the Tour de France from 1999 to 2005. It was hard to root against Armstrong, a survivor of testicular cancer and founder of the Livestrong Foundation, but the growing amount of evidence became too much to ignore. Armstrong ultimately confessed to Oprah, and even that seemed like yet another performance.

#4: 2002 Winter Olympic Bid Scandal

Every four years, the Winter Olympics showcase the greatest athletes in the world, and it’s also a time for corrupt benefactors to admire their illegal purchases. In 1995, Salt Like City was selected to host the 2002 games, and three years later, the Salt Lake Organizing Committee was suspiciously protective of their financial documents when pressed by reporters. It was almost like they didn’t want people to know that numerous members of the International Olympic Committee were given political contributions, tuition money and millions upon millions of dollars. You broke our heart, Utah, just like that French judge who sabotaged the 2002 pairs’ figure skating competition.

#3: Black Sox Scandal

Any true baseball fan knows the name Shoeless Joe Jackson. He was the centerpiece of the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, where players were accused of throwing the World Series and banned from baseball for life. Of course, Shoeless Joe was also a central character in the 1989 film “Field of Dreams.” What most people don’t realize, unfortunately, is that he most likely wasn’t involved in the scandal at all, and the available evidence supports such a conclusion. Even so, the fact remains that America’s favorite pastime was undoubtedly fixed, and a classic phrase was born: “Say it ain’t so, Joe.”

#2: Steroid Scandal

For nearly forty years, an unassuming man named Roger Maris held the Major League Baseball single-season home run record, but in the mid-‘90s, a new trend emerged: juicing. However, most fans didn’t fully realize the extent of the steroid problem. Mark McGwire hit 70 homers in ‘98, and three years later Barry Bonds set the existing “record” with 73. It was indeed an exciting time, but when the Mitchell Report was released in 2007, the game was tarnished forever.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- Pakistan Cricket Spot-Fixing Scandal
- Tiger Woods’ Infidelity Scandal
- Robert Hoyzer and the Bundesliga Scandal
- New Orleans Saints Bounty Scandal [aka Bountygate]
- Basketball Controversy with the Spanish Team at 2000 Summer Paralympics

#1: 2015 FIFA Corruption Case

All hell broke loose in May of 2015 when U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch unveiled an intricate bribing scheme involving FIFA executives and corrupt officials. In fact, FIFA VP Jack Warner even tried to defend himself by citing a satirical news article by The Onion. As we’ve seen with the 2002 Winter Olympics, any event can be bought, and while this scandal may not come as a big surprise to skeptics, the grand scale of the entire cover-up is simply astounding. We are truly living in a world of magnificent bastards.

Do you agree with our list? What do you think is the most memorable sports scandal? For more mind-blowing Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to


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