9 Athletic Scandals We Couldn’t Make Up If We Tried

These might not all be the worst scandals in sports, or the funniest, but they’re pretty damn crazy. A few are within the realm of possibility, but would require a crack writing team to craft the stories any better than fate did. Some of them are funny, some are sad, all are weird as hell. Except the sex boat one. That one I could have come up with, but the idea of a boat full of fornicating NFL players is too vivid not to elicit. So have fun with that one and the rest.

9. Duke Rape Scandal
This scandal was perhaps so strange because it WASN’T true. Three white Duke lacrosse players, at a party with many more, were arrested and charged with the rape of a black stripper that they had hired as entertainment for a party. It sounds like an especially lazy episode of “Law & Order: SVU” because it’s so cliché. Well, the cliché was turned on its head when it came to light (through credibility issues, airtight alibis and inconsistencies) that she hadn’t been raped by any of the three accused, the damage had been done, and many had to reconcile the fact that the privileged white boys didn’t deserve their scorn.

Elliott Back

8. Brett Favre and His Pixelated Penis
Football’s golden boy gets caught with his pants down. 792-time All-Madden quarterback busted while wearing Crocs. There’s no dignity in this, but there’s hardly dignity in any sex scandal. Favre’s fall here was about shattered expectations. Granted, he had become a whipping boy by the time he decided to photograph his dick and send it to Jenn Sterger, but we was still held in higher regard than most, but by the end of the scandal and his retirement, he’d gone from just a legend to a football player. And that’s a bigger fall from going to football player to nothing.


Ok. Enough poetry. Let’s move on…

7. Michael Vick Dogfighting
It’s hard to imagine a stranger scandal than a Hall-of-Fame caliber quarterback being arrested for fighting, torturing, and killing animals. If he was involved in a Russian roulette circle or an underground fight club, it wouldn’t have been as surprising as if we’d heard that he fought animals for money. An NFL quarterback taught millions of sports fans about rape stands and the dirty details about what goes on in this world that lands about 100 miles away from your average season ticket holder. His incarceration and comeback make the story even stranger, if not more hopeful, to some.

Hampton Roads

6. Tiger Woods Banging Everything with a Skirt and a Pulse
Again, what’s amazing about this scandal is not so much the act (I’m not sure a dozen or so girls even puts El Tigre in the upper quartile of pro athletes), but the perpetrator. He was the poster boy for the sport: young, multi-ethnic, well-spoken, and phenomenally talented. So much so that he was (probably) the highest-paid spokesman in the nation. He was also quite private. So when the hammer came down that Thanksgiving, the next two months put Tiger on a slow-sinking ship that demonstrated how much attention a tabloid nation could lavish on a guilty pleasure. Like Favre, Tiger didn’t lose it all, but he had so much to begin with that he really doesn’t represent the person larger-than-life figure that stared at us from every airport kiosk.

5. The Minnesota Vikings Sex Boat
During the football season (October 6) in 2005, it has been alleged (and pretty much accepted) that 17 Vikings players spent the afternoon partying on a rented boat with hookers flown in from Atlanta and Florida. This is pretty much the most likely entry on this list, but the scale is pretty damn impressive (depressing?). The player that orchestrated this party hopefully has left the NFL and started a career as an event planner. The fallout was pretty close to negligible: a couple fines and the creation of a 77-page code of conduct book that presumably prohibits “sex parties on or near lakes that Prince has made famous.”

Seriously, NFL players: throw sex boat parties. The fallout really isn’t that bad.


4. Texas Mom Cheerleading Scandal
So this mom, Wanda Holloway, wanted her daughter to be a cheerleader, so she hired her ex-brother-in law to kill another cheerleading candidate’s mother, ostensibly causing the other candidate to drop out of contention, leaving her own daughter primed for a spot on the team. Her daughter and the other girl were 13 years old. The mother was caught, the deed never went down, and she was sentenced to 15 years for solicitation. However, that plea was overturned when it was found that a juror was on probation. She then pled “no contest,” and was sentenced to only 10 years. Then for some reason, she was released after six months. She’s probably your neighbor now.

3. Spanish Paralympic Scandal
Most people haven’t expressed outrage over this scandal simply because they didn’t know about it. And because the statute of limitations on getting enraged about Paralympics cheating is probably around ten years, it will probably never happen. But in 2000, the Spanish Paralympic basketball team was proven to have 10 players on the team that exceed the maximum IQ required to participate in the games. They won the gold medal, then, was this truth came to light, the medals were stripped and Martin Vicente, the president of the group that sent the players, the FEDDI, retired. Because it’s hard to imagine a worse transgression than the president of this group subbing in more able (and ineligible) players in order to get that W. Who was exuding that much pressure on this guy to win? Weird.

2. Marv Albert….YES!
This is insane because Albert is still broadcasting and widely regarded as the best announcer in the game. In 1997 he was arrested and brought to trial for forcible sodomy for allegedly having rough sex with a woman (rough meaning they proved he bit her on the back 15 times, and the way they know that is because the bite marks were deep enough that they were able to get his DNA from them) and sodomizing her. He caught a 12-month suspended sentence and was subsequently politely asked to leave NBC. However, NBC in 1999 wasn’t as poorly run as NBC is today, so they had the sense to bring him back after two years in the doghouse. It’s almost impossible to hear Marv bellow about a late fourth-quarter three and not be reminded that he really, really likes rough sex.

The Smoking Gun

1. Rosie Ruiz and the Boston Marathon
This lady cheated in the Boston marathon, and pretty poorly at that. She was a remarkable runner to begin with, but she went from “among the elite” (and that’s being generous) to the undisputed world record holder after slaughtering your previous time in NYC by 25 minutes for a time of 2:31:56. Later when she was tested, she was found to have a resting heart rate about 50% faster than most world-class marathoners. I’m no running expert, but that sounds like an enormous red flag.

Her bulletproof explanation was, “I got up with a lot of energy this morning.” It’s hard to argue with that, but the officials that interviewed strategic runners and crowd members, none of whom could recall seeing her, went ahead and did it anyway. She still maintains her innocence, but her involvements in embezzlement and a cocaine deal dictate that she might not have the strongest character and may not have cheated only in Boston, but in the New York marathon a half-year earlier. Tricky stuff.

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