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Monday, February 25, 2002
Worst sports scandals

Page 2 staff

Joe Jackson was 12-for-32 (.375) with a home run, a team-high six RBI and no errors for the White Sox in the 1919 World Series.
Now that the scandal-plagued Salt Lake City Olympics are over, Page 2 presents its list of the top 10 sports scandals of all-time. But we're limiting the category to scandals related to events, so O.J. Simpson is exempt this time.

After taking a look at our list below, check out how Page 2 readers ranked the biggest sports scandal in history. And be sure to vote in the poll to crown the No. 1 scandal of all-time.

1. 1919 Black Sox
Eight members of the heavily favored 1919 Chicago White Sox were bribed -- allegedly by gambler Arnold Rothstein -- to dump the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds.

2. College basketball point-shaving scandal of the late-'40s and early-'50s
Many top teams and stars, including the 1951 CCNY team (the only team to win the NCAA and NIT titles in the same season) and Kentucky All-Americans Ralph Beard and Alex Groza, accepted payoffs from gamblers to make sure their teams did not cover the point spread. Because of this, New York City, at that time the center of the college basketball universe and, unfortunately, also the center of the scandal, fell from grace and has never recovered its exalted position.

3. Skategate I, starring Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan
Thugs hired by Harding tried to injure Kerrigan and eliminate her as a threat to Harding at the 1994 Games in figure skating, resulted in a lot of media attention, soap opera-type drama and the highest TV ratings in the history of the Olympics. Harding was allowed to skate, and Kerrigan was able to skate, but neither took home the gold, which went to Ukraine's Oksana Baiul.

4. Salt Lake City bribes the International Olympic Committee to get the 2002 Games
In sports, sometimes, crime does pay. However, the scandal did lead to some major changes in the way Olympic sites are awarded, and effectively ended the long reign of despotic IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch.

Danny Almonte
Danny Almonte, 14, fooled everyone into thinking he was an amazing 12-year-old.
5. The Danny Almonte-Little League age scandal
Almonte, the star pitcher of a Little League team from the Bronx, N.Y., pitched his squad into the LL World Series, where he threw a perfect game. However, his team, the Rolando Paulino All-Stars, was stripped of its district, state and region titles and of its third-place finish at the Series and remained in Little League on a probationary basis after it was proven that Almonte was actually 14, two years older than the LL age limit. Sports has had many more harmful scandals, but none ever damaged the myth of the Innocent Young Sportsman worse than this.

6. Ben Johnson fails his drug test
Johnson, Canada's greatest sprinter ever, won the 100 meters at the 1988 Games in Seoul, South Korea, in world record (9.79 seconds) time , but was later disqualified for using banned performance-enhancing drugs. Three days later, American Carl Lewis, who finished second, was given the gold medal.

7. University of Minnesota hoops academic cheating scandal
Under coach Clem Haskins, for years Minnesota hoopsters systematically committed academic fraud in a scheme that tarnished many at the university, including professors, academic advisers, several members of the coaching staff, and, of course, the players. This made quite a mockery of that favored phrase of the NCAA -- "student-athletes" -- and subjected the university to various sanctions, ridicule and a major blow to its academic reputation.

8. Jim Thorpe loses his pentathlon and decathlon Olympic gold medals
Thorpe, often considered the greatest all-around athlete who ever lived, captured both events at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, but was stripped of both titles after it was discovered that he had played professional baseball in 1909 and 1910. In 1983 his results were reinstated by the IOC and his medals were returned to his children.

Gold Medal Ceremony
Canadian and Russian pairs figure skaters share the gold medal podium at Salt Lake City.
9. Pete Rose betting-on-baseball scandal
Rose said he didn't bet on baseball, but former Major League Baseball commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti said his investigators found otherwise. Either way, baseball's all-time hit king signed an agreement declaring him permanently ineligible from baseball, and effectively, the Baseball Hall of Fame.

10. Skategate II: Canadian pairs and Russian pairs end up sharing gold medals
Russians Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze earn higher scores and win gold medals at 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, although many experts say Canadians Jamie Salé and David Pelletier had a near-flawless performance. An alleged vote-trading scheme is uncovered between Russian and French officials, prompting the International Skating Union and International Olympic Committee to award a second gold medal to the Canadians.

Also receiving votes
  • 1981 Boston College college basketball point-shaving scandal.
  • 1962 college basketball point-shaving scandal involving 37 players from 22 institutions.
  • 1997 Arizona State college basketball point-shaving scandal.
  • 1998 Northwester college basketball point-shaving scandal.
  • 1993 Florida State college football "free shoes" scandal.
  • Rosie Ruiz cheats to win the Boston marathon.
  • George O'Leary resigns as Notre Dame football coach after lies uncovered on his résumé.
  • Vermont University cancels its hockey season over hazing
  • Soviet Union beats United States in 1972 men's Olympic basketball final.
  • Roy Jones Jr. loses decision after pummelling South Korea's Si Hun Park in light middleweight final at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.