Scandals That Rocked the Sports World

Source: David Madison / Getty Images

6. Rosie Ruiz cheating
> Sport: Track and Field
> When it happened: 1980
> Who was involved: Rosie Ruiz

Rosie Ruiz made winning the 1980 Boston Marathon look easy. Maybe too easy. The 26-year-old New Yorker had barely broken a sweat upon completing the 26-mile course in just over 2½ hours. Race officials were skeptical of the achievement, and competitors were as well, since they could not remember her running in the race. Days later, witnesses said they saw Ruiz jump into the race one mile from the finish. Eventually, she was disqualified. Ruiz had used similar tactics when she competed in the New York Marathon, taking the subway instead of running the race.

Source: chapcavi / Flickr

7. MLB players drug use
> Sport: MLB
> When it happened: 1980s
> Who was involved: MLB players

Drug use in Major League Baseball was a problem during the 1970s, but the scandal involving the Pittsburgh Pirates in the mid-1980s was the most serious episode to that point. Dale Shiffman, a freelance photographer, and Kevin Koch, who was the Pirates mascot, a parrot, were the cocaine connection for two-thirds of the Pirates’ 25-man roster, according to an interview Shiffman did later for HBO. The resulting trial led to the disclosure of drug use among many marquee players in the game.

Source: Brian Harkin / Getty Images

8. SMU pays football players
> Sport: College football
> When it happened: 1987
> Who was involved: SMU football team

Southern Methodist University had been a powerhouse in college football in the early 1980s, led by the so-called “Pony Express,” running backs Eric Dickerson and Craig James. The school was undefeated in 1982 and was second in the nation. But that success came crashing down in 1986 when it was found that SMU had violated recruiting rules for 16 years. The school got the so-called “death penalty” from the NCAA in 1987 — or repeat violators rule — and was forbidden to play football that season, and the 1988 season was canceled because of a lack of players. The impact of the penalty on the program would be felt for years afterward.

Source: Steve Grayson / Getty Images

9. Boxer robbed of gold medal
> Sport: Olympic Games
> When it happened: 1988
> Who was involved: Roy Jones Jr., Park Si-hun, Olympic boxing judges

American middleweight boxer Roy Jones Jr. had breezed through preliminary contests during the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. He was seemingly on his way to a gold medal in his bout with South Korean fighter Park Si-hun, who took two standing eight counts during the fight and was being pummeled by Jones. Yet three out of five judges scored the fight in favor of Park Si-hun. The absurdity of the verdict was underscored by the fact that Jones would later be awarded a trophy as the outstanding fighter of the Seoul Olympiad. Jones would eventually become a world champion. It was eventually discovered that the host nation was involved with bribing the judges at multiple events, including boxing. The episode led to the introduction of an electronic scoring system at the Olympics.

Source: Sean Gallup / Getty Images

10. East German doping
> Sport: Olympic Games
> When it happened: 1974-1989
> Who was involved: East German athletes

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the eventual dissolution of East Germany, it was revealed — and what many in the West had long suspected — that the formerly communist nation had conducted a state-run doping program to win championships in sports. The program was begun in 1974 under the auspices of East Germany’s sports federation. Female athletes were given untested steroids and male hormones without their knowledge. The results were stunning, particularly at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, when East Germany’s women’s swimming team won 11 of 13 events. Some women paid a high price for steroid use, with terrible side effects such as liver and heart disease, depression, infertility, miscarriages, and even death.