Alex Rodriguez has been getting a lot of attention for all the wrong reasons lately. The Major League Baseball player has been known for his skills on the ball field—he’s the youngest in the league to hit 500-career home runs—but recently he’s been in the news for using performance enhancement drugs while playing America’s favorite pastime.
For the doping allegations, A-Rod has been given a 211 game suspension, which would last for the rest of the 2013 season and the entire 2014 season. With an unpaid two-year suspension, A-Rod will have to survive off of his millions of dollars (somehow we think he’ll manage). Some might consider the repercussions for Rodriguez over-the-top in comparison to the other players involved in the drug scandal—most of them having received a 50 game ban—but in the long run, Rodriguez got off pretty easy. After all, tons of athletes have been involved in scandals and forced to face lifetime bans and career-crippling suspensions. Take a look at some of the most infamous athletes who were either stripped of their accomplishments or banned from the sport they loved (or both).
Who would’ve guessed that ice skating would be so scandalous underneath its beautiful, elegant surface? Ice skater Tonya Harding was one of the top contenders in the 1994 Winter Olympics as an already accomplished athlete. But even as the first woman to complete a triple axle in competition, she had reservations about her competition, namely Nancy Kerrigan. As opposed to Harding taking the steroid route, she consented to ex-husband Jeff Gillooly clubbing Kerrigan in the knee during the Olympic trials. For Harding’s failure to report any knowledge that she had about the planned assault, the United States Olympic Committee considered removing Harding from the Winter Olympics lineup, but when Harding threatened to take legal action, they let her compete. Later she received a lifetime ban from competing in ice skating within the United States. And the cherry on top: Harding finished eighth in the Winter Olympics of 1994, while Kerrigan won the silver medal.
When everyone’s favorite cyclist Lance Armstrong admitted to using illegal substances while he biked around the world, sports enthusiasts everywhere let out a deep sigh. The golden boy of cycling, who inspired countless people with his consistent victories and overcame testicular cancer, saw his famed reputation crumble after he admitted in January 2013 to using enhancement substances throughout his career. Consequently, the International Cycling Union stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France victories and banned him from the sport for life in October of 2012, months before he came clean in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. Although he’s had a lot taken away from him, Armstrong took off his training wheels and has faced up to the consequences of his actions.
Pete Rose, one of the greatest batters in major league baseball history, gave his baseball nickname, “Charlie Hustle,” a whole new meaning after he was revealed to be involved in a gambling scandal. Rose retired from baseball at the top of his game in 1985, working as a manager of the Cincinnati Reds. But in the late ‘80s, people began to get suspicious about his gambling habits. After Rose was exposed for betting on baseball games, he was banned from the sport for life in 1989. After nearly a decade, he applied for reinstatement but never got his chance back at bat. Looks like “Charlie Hustle” made all the wrong bets when he started gambling in Major League Baseball.
The world of scandalous athletes definitely is far from being a boys-only club. Marion Jones was a hero and role model during the 2000 Summer Olympics. She sprinted her way to five gold medals during the Olympics, becoming the first female track and field athlete to accomplish such a feat. All was well as the years went by and her legacy remained intact—until she tested positive for a banned substance in 2006. The following year she admitted to doping and not only had to return her landmark Olympic medals, but the International Olympic Committee also banned her from the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Shoeless Joe Jackson
Ahh yes, this man was one of the original, and arguably innocent, scandalous professional athletes: Shoeless Joe Jackson. The Chicago White Sox baseball player took his team to a World Series title in 1917 during his heyday—with Babe Ruth even saying that he copied Jackson’s style when he took the plate. Unfortunately, his involvement in the Black Sox scandal left his reputation even dirtier than his soiled uncovered baseball stockings. Apparently, one World Series wasn’t enough for Jackson, who agreed to throw the 1919 World Series for $20,000, along with seven other teammates. After Jackson only received $5,000 of his share and the public found out about the shady deal, all eight players were banned from baseball for life. That big mistake kept Jackson form getting inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and left him working at a liquor store until he died.
So just keep that in mind, A-Rod, things could be a lot worse.