Call it a blessing or call it a curse, but star athletes are often put on a pedestal by their fans, and when they mess up, they are scrutinized to no extent. Here’s a list of famous sportspersons (in no particular order) whose bans shocked the whole world.
1. Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson went from being one of the fastest men on planet to one of the world’s most infamous cheaters in a matter of days. Just three days after winning gold in the 100 meter dash at the 1988 Summer Olympics, Johnson’s urine tested positive for the banned substance stanazol. He was subsequently disqualified from the race, and stripped off his medal. However, Johnson received only a lengthy suspension for his actions. His lifetime ban wouldn’t occur until 1993, while he tested positive yet again for steroids, while competing in France.
2. Mickey Mantle
Widely considered one of, if not the greatest centre fielder in MBL history, Mickey Mantle is as synonymous with the game as the baseball glove itself. However, his association with the game was not without controversy. In 1983, 15 years after he retired, Mantle accepted a job at the Cleridge resort casion in Atlantic City. MLB commissioner Bowie Kuhn felt that mantle was violating the league’s policy regarding current and former players associating with gambling, and placed him on the permanently ineligible list.
The ban didn’t last long, with Kuhn successor Peter Uberroth reinstating Mantle two years later. It just ain’t baseball without the Mick.
3. Tonya Harding
Former American figure skater Tonya Harding was all set to compete for a medal at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer Norway, but there was just one problem – teammate Nancy Kerrigan. What happened next was one of the most infamous and vicious displays of premeditated violence in sports history. Under orders from Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly, Shane Stant attacked Kerrigan after a practice in Detroit.
The attack left Kerrigan unable to compete in the upcoming 1994 US Figure Skating Championships. Stant, Gillooly, and two other men served time for the attack, but Harding got away relatively scot-free, at least until the United States Figure Skating Association conducted their investigation and banned her for life.
4. Lance Armstrong
Once regarded as one of the most inspirational and talented athletes on the planet, Lance Armstrong’s name is now synonymous with cheating. Armstrong won the Tour de France seven consecutive times, but was accused of doping for much of his career. The allegations came to a head in 2012, when he was banned for life by the United States anti-doping agency.
5. Pete Rose
Pete Rose’s banishment from baseball is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most famous in the history of professional sports. After a highly decorated career as a player and manager, one that saw him win three World Series titles and set the record for most career hits, Rose willingly accepted a place on the MLB’s permanently ineligible list. He did so in the wake of allegations that he bet on baseball while playing for and managing the Cincinnati Reds. Rose, who remains banned from entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame, has unsuccessfully applied for reinstatement numerous times.