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Gambling Scandals that Rocked the Sporting World

05/22/2019, 9:00am CDT
By Jon Firman

For as long as there were professional sporting events, there has always been some sort of gambling to accompany the match. Sports betting scandals have been and continue to degrade the integrity and sportsmanship of some of the most popular sports and sportsman in the world, despite the established security measures and efforts set in place by top sporting institutions. With so much at stake, it is inevitable that there have and will be instances where sports stars have been approached to fix game results. Let's find out what happened and how it went down.

Black Sox Scandal

The Black Sox Scandal is arguably one of the oldest and greatest betting scandals of all time. This baseball scandal took place during the 1919 World Series where the White Sox were playing against the Cincinnati Reds. Eight major league baseball players from the Chicago White Sox included Minnesota born Chick Gandil. They were later named “The Black Sox”, were accused of purposefully throwing the game in return for a large sum of money.

Gandil was born in St Paul but moved West sometime around his 12th birthday. He was the first player contacted to throw the World Series and was also responsible for recruiting the players which included “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. Jackson and Eddie Cicotte admitted to a Chicago Grand Jury their involvement in the scheme. While the jury acquitted all players, all eight players were placed on the ineligible list. This story is the inspiration behind movie Eight Men Out and is still a common topic when discussing the right of “Shoeless” Joe Jackson to be in the Hall of Fame.

John Daly Vegas Casino Losses

John Daly, the infamous pro golfer, has been known to be a hard drinker and had run-ins with ex-wives. What we learned from the final chapter of his autobiography, however, is that he has had a massive gambling problem. In an amount that dwarfs big gamblers like Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley, Daly admitted to losing between 50 and 60 million dollars in Vegas casinos. One story goes that after he beat Tiger Woods at a tournament in 2005, he went to the casino and blew double the $750,000 he won on high stakes slot machines popular in Vegas

Nelson Piquet Crash Scandal

At the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix in September 2008, the Renault team ordered driver Nelson Piquet (also known as “Crashgate”) to intentionally crash his car, giving teammate Fernando Alonso the victory. This crash did not become scandalous until a while after it occurred, as crashes were not a rarity in Formula 1 racing. However, after Nelson was pulled out of the team (Renault F1) allegations arose that the crash, and win of Fernando Alonso, was orchestrated. Nelson admitted to the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile) that he had indeed been asked by his coach to stage the crash. After an intense case, Nelson Piquet is now a certified NASCAR racer.

Hansie Cronje Cricket Scandal

The cricket world was rocked when a recorded conversation about match-fixing between South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje and Sanjay Chawla, a representative of an Indian betting syndicate, was revealed by the Delhi Police in April, 2000. Cronje initially denied his wrongdoing, though 2 months later came clean. He revealed the depth of his contact with the bookmakers and how much money he had taken from them in return for fixing results. Cronje was banned from cricket activities for life, a ban he tried and failed to get overturned in 2001.

Cronje’s life tragically ended when a plane, where he was the sole passenger, crashed into the Outeniqua Mountains in South Africa. There are rumors that he was murdered on the orders of a cricket-betting syndicate, though no evidence has ever surfaced.

1951 Point Shaving Scandal

The 1951 Point Shaving scandal is one of the biggest basketball scandals in history. In February 1951, seven men were arrested by the NYC District Attorney on charges of conspiring to fix basketball games. After investigation, it was discovered that at least 86 known games were fixed. In all, 32 players were arrested and charged for fixing the 86 games between 1947 and 1950.Tournament games were only scheduled in the New York area again in 1982, as the NCAA attempted to stamp out corruption.

Damien Oliver’s Horse Racing Scandal

When it surfaced that Damien Oliver, Australian Cup Winning Jockey, had placed a $10 000 bet on a horse riding against his own mount in 2010, shock waves travelled through the horse racing community. Damien's horse seem to have fallen behind early in the race, but came back with a force to finish second to Miss Octopussy who came in at first position. As a result of all this, Oliver received a 10-month suspension for his actions. Victoria’s Racing Integrity Commissioner reported that “lack of powers made the investigation difficult, protected and frustrating”. The significance of this particular scandal is that even in today’s world, the temptation of fixing races and events is still rife.

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