Ryan Giggs has hit the headlines after being revealed as the footballer who tried to use the court system to stop details of his alleged affair entering the public domain.
And while mere adultery would never have got the Welshman close to the top 10 of our sporting scandals, his embarrassing attempts to stem the flow of information on the internet have made sure he and alleged mistress Imogen Thomas will always have their place in history.
In drawing up our list of top 10 sporting scandals we have not just focused on drug cheats or other crimes against fair play. If we'd included those, then 1988 Olympic 100m 'champion' Ben Johnson, Formula One legend Michael Schumacher and the entire sport of cycling would be on the list.
Instead, we've focused on those incidents which have caught the public imagination - and found their way all over the front pages as well as the back.
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10. Ryan Giggs versus
When news of a super injunction preventing the media from
naming a married Premier League star accused of infidelity in the spring of 2011,
few would have imagined that Manchester United's veteran winger Ryan Giggs was
the man in question.
Yet it was indeed the 37-year-old, still playing sublime
football despite his advancing years, at the centre of it. Model and former
Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas was prevented from giving any details of
the alleged affair, while newspapers fumed about the courts gagging them
despite the decidedly grey areas in UK privacy law.
The super injunction appeared to be holding firm - despite
an MP alluding to his name on TV news quiz Have I Got News For You - and
Giggs's identity seemed set to remain out of the public domain.
That is where social media came in, with anonymous users
posting his name on Twitter - as well as names of several other high-profile
people in the worlds of sport and entertainment who had obtained similar
If Giggs had left it at that he might have got away with it,
but his lawyers' ill-advised attempts to try and force California-based Twitter
to release personal details of those who had breached the injunction - with a
view to forcing contempt of court prosecutions - the internet went mad.
In what can only be described as cyberspace's answer to the
end of classic 1960 Stanley Kubrick movie Spartacus, tens of thousands started tweeting Giggs's name, knowing that it would be impossible and impractical for
all of them to face action. That movement prompted MP John Hemming to name
Giggs in Parliament, thus allowing media to report the name and blowing the
debate wide open.
The sad truth is that nobody would have cared about Giggs
being an adulterer - after all, everyone from David Beckham downwards has been
caught with their pants down at some stage - with the possible exception of
Giggs's wife. In fact, it would probably have pepped up the reputation of a
star who has always seemed as relentlessly dull off the pitch as he is
brilliant on it.
But now, however, he will always be remembered as the sad
and slightly desperate figure who tried to stop the flow of information on the
9. Tonya Harding's
friends attacking rival skater Nancy Kerrigan
Harding had hit the heights in the early 90s when she won
the US Figure Skating Championships, came second in the World Championships
and became the first American woman to complete a triple axel in competition.
But it all went horribly wrong when fellow competitor Nancy
Kerrigan looked like putting Harding in the shade - until, that is, she was
attacked in January 1994 by a man wielding a metal police baton. The attackers
were Harding's ex-husband Jeff Gillooly and friend Shawn Eckhardt.
Harding admitted to helping cover up the attack, but maintained
her innocence of participating in it and was, quite incredibly, allowed
to keep her place on the US Olympic team despite receiving 500 hours of community
service and a £100,000 fine.
Justice was eventually served, however: Kerrigan recovered well
enough in the seven weeks before the Olympics to scoop a silver medal. The
United States Figure Skating Association decided that Harding knew about the
attack beforehand and showed "clear disregard for fairness, good sportsmanship
and ethical behaviour". They banned Harding from competing in their events,
and as competitors and promoters refused to work with her she was forced out of
When Harlequins rugby star Tom Williams came off with blood
pouring from his mouth during a Heineken Cup quarter-final, the club appeared
to have had a lucky break as they were able to bring previously-substituted Nick
Evans back on to the pitch.
Yet Williams's strange little wink to the bench as he trotted off was caught
on camera and an investigation ultimately revealed that
Quins coach (and former England star) Dean Richards had told the player to fake
the injury using a joke shop blood capsule. An extraordinary web of deceit was
eventually uncovered, implicating the club doctor for making unnecessary
stitches to cover up the cheating, and suggesting that Harlequins threatened
players with being forced out of the club if they refused to take part in the
Richards eventually admitted orchestrating the systematic
cheating. He resigned from his job at Harlequins and is currently serving a three-year
ban from international and domestic rugby.
7. Dwight Yorke and
Mark Bosnich's secret reality TV show
Former Manchester United and Aston Villa striker Yorke was
one of the most prolific footballing womanisers of the 1990s, being involved
with a string of high-profile and low-class women that among other things saw
him father a child with Jordan/Katie Price.
But his low point - or his high point, depending on how you
look at it - came in 1998, when he and Aston Villa goalkeeper Mark Bosnich took
four girls back to his luxury house in Sutton Coldfield and secretly filmed their
subsequent booze-fuelled sex romp.
The pair covered themselves in further glory by giving
secret thumbs-ups to their hidden camera as they grinned their way through the
orgy, Bosnich even more so for his cross-dressing antics during the wild night.
Yorke somewhat naively threw the video out in the rubbish, from
where it somehow made its way to the newsdesk of The Sun - and therefore,
ultimately, into this article. Although not the video itself, obviously.
1988 Olympics deny the boxer of the tournament gold
In 1988 Roy Jones Jr came to the Seoul Olympics as one of
the USA's top medal hopes in boxing and cruised through to the gold medal
bout without losing a single round.
Once there he had Korean opponent Park Si-Hun on the
ropes throughout, landing a total of 86 punches to Park's 32 during an absurdly
Unbelievably, however, the judges decided that the local man
had done enough to win the bout and awarded Park the gold.
The decision caused widespread astonishment and outrage -
but not to the judges or Korean officials who had wined and dined them.
One of the judges admitted that a mistake had been made,
Park even reportedly apologised to Jones and a new scoring system was
instigated following the outrageous corrupt decision.
The IOC refuses to acknowledge that anything untoward took
place, however, and the decision still stands - despite the fact Jones won the
Val Barker trophy in 1988, awarded to the best overall boxer of the Games.
Jones went on to become one of the best pound-for-pound
boxers the sport has seen and was named 'fighter of the decade' for the 1990s
by the American boxing writers' association, but his gold medal still rankles
and he remains hopeful that the decision will one day be overturned.
5. Thierry Henry's
handball puts Ireland out of the World Cup before they were even in it
Henry's double handball allowed the Frenchman to put in a
cross that gave William Gallas a tap-in to deny Ireland a spot at the 2010
World Cup finals.
The scandal had the whole world talking, with everyone from
Padraig Harrington to Bono to the French education minister chucking in their
two pennies' worth.
The outraged Irish FA attempted everything to redress the
injustice, including pleas from captain Robbie Keane and chief executive John
Delaney to replay the match, before they finally requested to be included in
the finals as an extra team.
Henry eventually apologised, albeit after FIFA had refused
to allow the fixture to be replayed - which the striker duly suggested
But the Irish enjoyed a small measure of revenge in watching
Karma get to work on the French: Les Bleus managed just one point from their
matches and went home amid a training ground scandal whose repercussions are
still being felt by the national team today.
4. Adam 'Pacman'
Jones and the strip club shooting
The former Tennessee Titans and Dallas Cowboys cornerback is
a renowned fan of strip clubs and has been in trouble with the police a
number of times.
But by far his biggest scandal blew up in 2007. The Pacman
was accused of attacking a Las Vegas stripper - allegedly grabbing her by the
hair and slamming her head - after she picked up money he had been
throwing on the stage. In the resulting melee, it was alleged that Jones
assaulted a bouncer and made threats to kill.
Later in the evening, a man believed to be Arvin Kenti
Edwards walked into the club and fired shots on the dancefloor. Three men were
hit, one of whom was the bouncer, one was a female patron, while the third -
former wrestler Tommy Urbanski - was paralysed from the waist down. Urbanski was
an innocent bystander completely unconnected to the original incident.
Jones was the prime suspect and was accused of ordering the shooting. He
denied all charges at first, claiming not to know the shooter despite a Las
Vegas police report alleging that he later paid money to Edwards via
go-betweens. Jones later accepted a plea bargain for "conspiracy to commit
disorderly conduct" that resulted in a one-year suspended sentence and over
a year out of the game.
The former number one draft choice was the highest-paid
player in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons - but in 2007 he shocked the world
of sport when it emerged that he was involved in a dog fighting ring.
Court papers said Vick participated in the execution of
underperforming dogs who were hanged, electrocuted, drowned and sometimes
slammed to death on the ground. He pleaded guilty and served 21 months in prison
for his involvement in the despicable offences.
Vick rededicated himself to American football after his
release in the summer of 2009 - but only after nearly blowing his second chance
when he left a friend's 30th birthday bash moments before a shooting that
wounded one of his dogfighting co-defendants.
Many were shocked when the Philadelphia Eagles gave Vick a route
back into the game after his release, but he has shown that he is still a
hugely talented player and won a place in the NFL Pro Bowl game at the end of
2. Tiger Woods redefines
the words 'sex scandal'
The first signs that all was not well with Tiger Woods came
in August 2009, when for the first time in his career he failed to win a Major
when going into the final round in the lead. Three months later that on-course
failure was all but forgotten as a late night car crash at his home in Florida
provided the spark which blew the former world number one's life to smithereens.
It soon emerged that Woods had crashed his car following a
furious row with his wife Elin over allegations of affairs with a string of
women - mostly porn stars and prostitutes. The clean-cut family man's image was
smashed to pieces almost instantaneously, keeping him out of the game for
several months, prompting several high-profile sponsors to desert him and even
persuading him to issue an unprecedented public apology.
Several months' work trying to save his marriage failed - with allegations that he slept with the daughter of Woods's next door
neighbours in Orlando - and Woods is single again.
But while he'll put his personal life back together, his
golfing life remains in tatters. The American has yet to win a tournament in more
than 18 months since the scandal broke, and his hopes of overhauling Jack
Nicklaus's record of 18 Major titles seem to be hanging by a thread.
Evander Holyfield's ear
A brutal streetfighter who made his way to the top of the
boxing world with sheer animal ferocity, Tyson was always a polarising figure before
the controversies that dogged him after first winning the world heavyweight
title at the age of 20.
In 1992 he was convicted of raping 18-year-old beauty queen Desiree
Washington in an Indianapolis hotel room, although the boxer claimed that their
sex had been consensual. His legendary lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, continued to
appeal his innocence for several years, citing Washington's earlier false accusations
of rape and claiming that she offered to drop the charges in return for $1
million. Tyson - whose conviction was at least partially blamed on his aggressive
and arrogant manner under cross examination - served three years in prison for
After being released in 1995 he returned to the ring,
ultimately earning a match-up against then-undisputed top dog Evander Holyfield.
A first bout was won by Holyfield, and the inevitable rematch was the richest
boxing match in history until De La Hoya-Mayweather in 2007.
Yet Tyson was, mentally, in pieces before the bout. He
threatened to kill Holyfield in the build-up and then stunned the world by
biting Holyfield on both ears in the third round.
The first bite forced the referee to stop the fight
temporarily; the second removed a piece of Holyfield's ear, which was later
found on the canvas.
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Have we missed your favourite scandal? Let us know in the comments box below.
- Ryan Giggs
- Tonya Harding
- Manchester United
- Roy Jones Jr
- Nancy Kerrigan
- Dwight Yorke
- Michael Schumacher