5 of the Biggest British Sporting Scandals of All Time

We have delved through the archives to pick out five of the biggest British scandals to rock sport.

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Sport can often prove to be controversial and divisive, with teams or players sometimes crossing the line in a bid to succeed.

We have delved through the archives to pick out five of the biggest British scandals to rock sport.

Rugby Union – Bloodgate

When you think of rugby union, the immediate thought is, quite often, of big, bruising players going head-on against each other and putting on a show in what is the archetypal Englishman’s game.

Rugby players pride themselves on the fact they don’t dive to the ground and try to feign injuries, something which is often seen in football.

However, an incident that occurred back in 2009 still lives long in the memory for the wrong reasons.

Harlequins were taking on Leinster in the quarter-final of the Heineken Cup on April 12 2009 when Quins wing Tom Williams pretended to be injured by using a fake blood capsule so another substitution could be made late in the contest.

The now 38-year-old made the error of dropping the capsule when attempting to retrieve it from his sock the first time around, something which was caught by the TV cameras, before then managing to break the capsule at the second time of asking.

Director of rugby Dean Richards, who reportedly offered Williams a pay rise to carry out the action, was handed a three-year ban, while Williams was suspended for a year, team physio Steph Brennan was banned for two years and Harlequins were fined £260,000.

Formula 1 – Spygate

Getting the edge over your opponents in Formula 1 is absolutely crucial and, for the most part, this is done in a legal way.

However, back in 2007, one of the biggest sporting scandals of all time was revealed.

McLaren were caught out in 2007 when a 780-page technical document on Ferrari’s F1 cars was found in the home of the team’s head designer Mike Coughlan, which had been passed to him by former Scuderia mechanic Nigel Stepney.

After further evidence was gained regarding phone calls between the two teams, McLaren were slapped with a whopping 100million dollar fine – the largest in sporting history – and excluded from the 2007 Constructors’ Championship.

Horse Racing – Doping scandal

Back in 2013, Mahmood Al Zarooni, the former Godolphin trainer, was at the centre of arguably the biggest scandal in the history of horse racing when he was banned for eight years for a doping scandal.

Al Zarooni admitted being in breach of the rules of racing after 11 horses at Godolphin’s Moulton Paddocks Stables tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid, while he also revealed he had administered a further four horses with one of two banned substances.

He was found guilty by a BHA disciplinary panel in April 2013, with his actions described as “a very serious departure from the proper governance standards expected in horse racing”, and to “have damaged the reputation of British racing”.

Football – Match-fixing mayhem

A major scandal came to public attention in 1964 when former Scottish footballer Jimmy Gauld was involved in some high-profile match-fixing.

He sold his story to the Sunday People for £7000, incriminating three Sheffield Wednesday players – Peter Swan, Tony Kay and David Layne.

Gauld had taped conversations with the three players involved and he was sentenced to four years imprisonment for conspiracy to defraud, while he was also slapped with a £5,000 fine.

The scandal, which was dramatised in a 1997 BBC film called ‘The Fix’, resulted in all four individuals being banned from football for life by The Football Association, although Swan and Layne did have theirs lifted and returned to the Owls in 1972.

Football – English scandal

It was a dark time for English football in 2016 when Sam Allardyce, who has just been appointed manager of the national team at the time, was caught out by undercover reporters from The Daily Telegraph.

With the footage being filmed, Allardyce discussed with fictitious Asian businessmen on how to get around FIFA and FA bans on third-party ownership of football players before then making derogatory remarks about Roy Hodgson and Gary Neville.

It resulted in Allardyce being sacked from his position after just one game in charge.

A single-handicapper, James always offers an interesting insight to the world of golf, with extensive knowledge of both the US and European Tours. James also has a wealth of information about the domestic and international football scene.
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