This was one tough list to compile. Why? Because when it comes to being an athlete who ends it all in one not-so-glorious end, it’s mostly the men. Don’t believe us? Well, think of Rae Carruth, Mike Tyson, OJ Simpson or recently, Tiger Woods. Still not convinced? Well, think more names – Mike Danton, Sam Hurd, Darryl Strawberry (yep, that’s a real guy) or even Bruce Kimball. Or how about Lance Armstrong and Oscar Pistorius? Put together their crimes and you got a criminal Christmas. It reads like a complete list of things that they could have done wrong and then proceeded to do! These famous male athlete really messed up their careers – big time.
On the other hand, while we are not saying the female half of the world is any less prone to crime and all acts ghastly, the sportswomen seem to be less problematic of the lot. Or perhaps they are just better at hiding their bad intentions or deeds? Whatever it may be, most female sports athletes tend to make a go of it once they achieve all they have wanted to. They have it tough, to begin with – facing discrimination and misbehavior all through the way. Once they make it big, they tend to enjoy their success minus any controversies or scandals – unless of course, they are these twenty female athletes, who destroyed it all in one gob-smacking moment that we will never be able to forget.
20. Abby Wambach: Seeing A Criminal Lawyer Post-Retirement
Female football’s golden girl retired in 2016 as the team’s most prolific scorer with 184 goals under her belt. She was on top of the world just the year before. Not only did Time Magazine name her one of the 100 most influential people in the world in April 2015 but also Out Magazine named her Athlete of the Year in November 2015. She was also featured on the cover of ESPN Magazine with teammates Sydney Leroux and Alex Morgan and appeared on multiple covers of Sports Illustrated as well. In 2016, though, after her influencing the US women’s national team were over, she was caught behind the wheel, under the influence in Portland, Oregon. In September 2016, Wambach held nothing back in her autobiography, Forward, where she wrote about her battle with addiction. She claims to be sober since but now most remember her for her DUI rather than her stellar career.
19. Hope Solo: A Less Than Stellar Rap Sheet
Hope Solo, Wambach’s teammate, and yet another female football star, is also messing up her life in a big way. And it seems that she’s too good a player to let go so the US Soccer team is aiding and abetting her slow destruction of her life. In October 2015, Hope Solo was involved in a physical altercation with her half-sister and her then minor nephew. In a classic case of they said, she said – the mother and son called Hope the instigator while Hope adamantly refused to take the blame. However, police reports state that when officers were trying to book her into jail, Solo was so combative that she had to be forced to the ground, prompting her to yell very inappropriate words at the officer, even threatening her.
18. Santhi Soundarajan: Failed The Gender Test
The rather controversial gender test took another victim – this time it was Indian runner Santhi Soundarajan, the winner of a silver medal for 800m in the Asian Games. She failed the gender test and subsequently, her medal was stripped and all honors revoked. She said, “It was a very bitter and humiliating experience for me. Sports federations should come up with a solution to this, rather than ostracizing somebody… To be very frank, the process of puberty has never happened to me and I have never been through the menstrual cycle. Attaining puberty or going through the menstrual cycle alone does not categorize somebody as a female, though. So I feel it is unfair to detriment the quality of people based on chromosomes. I feel it is unethical and biased.” She later said that all she wanted to do was run. But branded neither female and nor male by the authorities, she couldn’t. A couple of attempts at self-harm later, she finally petitioned to be accepted as a state coach and was granted the post.
17. Missy Giove: Getting Involved In Some Illegal Activity
Mellissa Missy Giove seemed famously fearless and she raced down the track on her bike, with such speed, that she earned the nickname The Missile. She retired in 2003 but her life remained a tad dramatic even later. Suffering from the aftereffects of various injuries, she soon became destitute and turned to crime to support herself. When she was arrested in 2009 on charges of conspiring to possess and distribute illegal substances. Wisely, Giove pleaded guilty to the charges. On November 23, 2011, she was sentenced to the time served, six months of home detention and five years of supervised release. This is what she had to say about it: “The place where I got it was legal, but not where I took it… Life is life, you know? But really, it’s not something I am ashamed of. I totally respect others’ opinions, though. At certain places and times, and although it’s not for everybody, it can be a useful tool.”
16. Martina Hingis: Tested Positive For A Forbidden Substance
Martina Hingis was a not just a rising star in tennis, she was a shooting star, but ligament injuries in both ankles forced her to withdraw temporarily from professional tennis in 2002. Then just 22, she already had won 40 singles titles and 36 doubles titles and had also been the highest paid female athlete in the world for five consecutive years, 1997 to 2001. Surgeries and recovery later, she returned to the WTA tour in 2006 and quickly climbed to world No. 6. But she retired again in November 2007 after a hip injury and also because she tested positive for a metabolite of an illegal substance. Hingis contested that the level of the substance found was too low and should have been considered more of an additive but she was still suspended for two years. She did make a comeback in the recent years, and we hope she’s back on track.
15. Brittney Griner & Glory Johnson’s Soap Opera Got Them Suspended
In 2014, Griner announced her engagement to fellow WNBA player Glory Johnson – all say yay for the women’s league. However, in 2015, the couple was arrested on charges of assault and disorderly conduct when the police had to come and break up a fight between the two at their Arizona residence. Both the women sported minor injuries. This did not deter them and the lovebirds married the same year, yet barely were the nuptials done that they announced that Johnson was pregnant with twins. To add to the drama, Griner filed for an annulment of the marriage the very next day of this pregnancy announcement citing fraud and duress. Poor Griner has no biological connection to the twins, and Johnson had become pregnant through IVF treatment using her eggs and a donation. The divorce came through in June 2016 but in 2015, both Griner and Johnson were suspended for seven games each by the WNBA and Griner pled guilty to disorderly conduct charges. Griner was also required to complete 26 weeks of counselling.
14. Lisa De Vanna: In For A Whole Lot Of Embarrassment
Lisa De Vanna is the captain of the Australian team, Matildas, and one electrifying striker to boot and applauded by football players, analysts and fans alike. However, her squeaky clean image ran into some rough ground when she posted inappropriate photos of herself online. Her friends thought it was a riot and so posted profane comments the photos. Unfortunately, a girl who was a fan of De Vanna came upon them and her mother registered a complaint. “I wouldn’t want my daughter to follow the Matildas and Lisa after seeing these images. These girls aren’t role models at all they are an embarrassment to themselves and their sport,” said the mother. “As a parent, I’m distraught that these are images of athletes my daughter aspires to be like and looks up to.” Not that her career took a dent, but De Vanna certainly had to eat some humble pie.
13. When The State Ruins You: East Germany’s Swim Team
In the 1976 Olympics, East Germany’s women’s swim team made a clean sweep – winning 11 of the 13 events. Almost a decade later, testing revealed that East German athletes had been deliberately fed anabolic substances ever since they were teenagers in training. And this was something the athletes were in the dark about. Considering Germany was not America’s favorite country, many high-power sports people and coached wanted the medals to be stripped off and the athletes banned from the sport. Obviously, the athletes themselves weren’t particularly happy about the turn of events. However since the athletes themselves didn’t discover what had happened to them until the Berlin wall collapsed, the Olympic committee decided that they could keep their medals. But their health collapsed so badly that it was almost as if their own country just wanted the medals, not the athletes.
12. When Heidi Kreiger Became Andreas Kreiger
Gender reassignment surgery is not unique to any country, profession or carder. But when Heidi Kreiger, a Gold winning shot-putter began to develop distinctly masculine characteristics and traits – she knew it was time for her to become a man. And in 1997, Heidi Kreiger became Andreas Kreiger. His sports career had ended a long time back, and mostly it was because of the substances that he had been fed since he was a teenage girl. Kreiger admits that becoming a man was something he felt right about and glad he did, but he also says that feeding him these substances took his independent decision away. Since he looked like a man and sounded like one, it was only natural for him to want to be one too. And so ended another sportswoman’s career, this time because she had to become a man because of unknowingly breaking the rules.
11. Tammy Thomas: Went The Armstrong Way
Tammy Thomas was all ready to go compete in the 2000 Olympics in cycling when she failed a substance test. So she never did get to go to the Olympics and was forced to undergo a one-year ban. She seemed to have learned her lessons and scored a silver medal at the 2001 UCI Track Cycling World Championships. Yay for her. But in 2002, Tammy Thomas seemed to have fallen back to her old, bad ways (or maybe she never stopped) and she tested positive for THG, a powerful anabolic substance. Now Tammy Thomas stands banned from cycling for life! She was also convicted of perjury in 2008 for lying to the federal investigators and is now studying law while being considered a pariah in the very sport she once loved, cycling.
10. Jennifer Capriati: Comeback Queen
In 1991 when Capriati was just 14, she became one of the top ten seeded players – basically a tennis prodigy. But when too much pressure is put on child stars, no matter the profession, things tend to unravel. And they did go bad for Capriati for a while. A battle with depression, a $14 ring shoplifting charge and then even possession caused Capriati to take an extended break from the sport. It seemed to be the end of Capriati but she made a roaring comeback, and she has succeeded. She won the Australian Open in 2001 and 2002, and the French Open in 2001 as well. In the midst of so many destructive stories, hers is one of hope. Despite the press having a field day with her personal struggles, she had the last laugh…
9. When A Man Competed For The High Jump As A Woman
Dora Ratjen was a German athlete who competed for Germany in the women’s high jump at the 1936 Summer Olympics at Berlin and finished fourth. In 1939, she broke the world record in high jump and so the previous record holder, British high-jumper Dorothy Tyler-Odam, was so informed. She, however, was suspicious of Ratjen and wrote back saying, “She’s not a woman, she’s a man.”And when the sports authorities dug into Dora’s background, the cat came out. Ratjen later confessed, “My parents brought me up as a girl [and] I therefore wore girl’s clothes all my childhood. But from the age of 10 or 11 I started to realize I wasn’t female, but male. However I never asked my parents why I had to wear women’s clothes even though I was male.” Later a physician ascertained that he was male. Ratjen returned the medal and faded into anonymity later and never really spoke about being Dora again. He later took the name Heinrich Ratjen.
8. Maria Sharapova: Enhanced Her Performance
In March 2016, Sharapova revealed she had failed a substance test at 2016 Australian Open and the world was shocked. Apparently, she had tested positive for meldonium, a substance that had been banned the very same year by the. Sharapova had been taking this medicine for some ten years on doctor’s orders and apparently had failed to read the email about the newly-banned status of this substnce. Initially, she was suspended from playing tennis for two years by the International Tennis Federation but after she appealed and explained her case, the ban was reduced to 15 months, starting from the date of the failed test. Sharapova is back now but surprisingly, she received little support from her tennis colleagues during this trial of hers. It’s not just enough to be a good player, you have to be nice to people too, you know.
7. When Dawn Fraser Stole A Flag & Lost It All
Recently, the once swimming star was in the news for making nasty comments about the people moving to US. She said, “I’m sick and tired of immigrants.” She later apologized for this but her career had ended a long time back, and not just because of what she said. In 1964, Fraser was a big swimming star with five gold medals to her name. In fact, in October 1962, she became the first woman to swim 100 metres freestyle in less than one minute and her record was only broken long after in 1972. During the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Fraser really ticked off the swimming team sponsors and the Australian Swimming Union (ASU) by marching in the opening ceremony against their wishes, and wearing an older swimming costume because it was more comfortable. Then she was accused of stealing an Olympic flag from a flagpole outside Emperor Hirohito’s palace from the Kōkyo. She was arrested and released without charge, and also given the flag as a souvenir. But Australian Swimming Union suspended her for 10 years. They did lift the ban before the 1968 Games but by then it was too late for her to prepare. All this for a flag…
6. Edinanci Silva: Became A Woman And Things Became Complicated
Edinanci Silva was biologically born with both male and female organs, but she always identified as female. To qualify as a female athlete, this the Brazilian judo player had surgery in the mid-90s so that she could become a woman. According to the IOC’s rules and regulations, this made her eligible to participate in the games and she competed in Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000 and Athens in 2004. In 2000, she beat the Australian judoka Natalie Jenkins. Whether it was her defeat, or just sour grapes, Jenkins raised the issue of Silva’s gender in a press conference where she referred to Silva as a male. “I have never fought that one before. My plan was not to grip with her, she’s – he’s – very strong,” she said. To combat this, Silva gave a mouth swab to officials, which proved she was female.
5. When Dana Chatman “Coached” A Player
Any time a coach is rumored to have a relationship with a player, things are going to hit the ceiling. In 2007, Dana “Pokey” Chatman was the head coach of the LSU Lady Tigers basketball program and her rather meteoric rise crashed to smithereens when a scandal emerged. There were allegations that she had engaged in a relationship with a player and that’s simply not appropriate. Chatman’s impeccable record wasn’t enough to excuse her actions and she he was given an ultimatum by the university: leave or get fired. Chatman later filed a suit against the school, alleging that the school owed her money after they forced her to resign in a huff. She now coaches the Chicago Sky in the WNBA and steers clears of players when it comes to choosing her partners.
4. Marion Jones’s Massive Fall From Glory To Infamy
Marion Jones was an all-out track star though she played basketball in college before switching full time to track and field. In 2000, she won 3 gold and 2 bronze medals at the Sydney Olympics and was on an all-time high like no other. She was suspected of using illegal substances and so the medals and the titles were stripped from her. She kept proclaiming her innocence but in 2003, was also the subject of a federal investigation into substance use. Jones denied using performance-enhancing substances to federal agents. In 2006 however, she failed the test. And in 2007, she admitted to lying to a federal agent and using the substance. So the International Association of Athletics Federations stripped her of her titles, and the International Olympic Committee removed her medals and left her to rue her mistake for life.
3. Sally McNeil Went To Prison For Good
Sally McNeil’s bodybuilding passion soon turned into a menace for all. Her “strength” not only boosted her confidence but also her bad intentions. She physically threatened her ex-husband and then dropped a 70 lbs. weight on his car from her balcony as revenge for being her ex. She was so out of line that she was once subdued with pepper spray during a physical altercation with police officers. Then she attacked a woman because she suspected the woman was having an affair with her husband. Finally, everything came to a gory end when on Valentine’s Day of 1995, she took the life of her husband.. Her “defence claims” of her husband harming her fell on deaf years and she was sentenced to life.
2. Paige Had Serious Relationship Problems
Paige hasn’t been having the best of times since 2016. She has not been seen since the summer of 2016 and has already been suspended on two occasions from WWE due to failing substance tests. She says she failed them because she did the tests after the time limit had expired, not because of any use of those substances. Her once romantic relationship with Alberto El Patron ended in a heated argument at the Orlando Airport that the police had to intervene and break up. The police are not filing any charges but Paige may still be suspended by the WWE on domestic charges. The rules state that they have no tolerance for their wrestlers harming a domestic partner in a dispute and if they do, “upon conviction for such misconduct, a WWE talent will be immediately terminated.” So Paige might be back, or she may lose the career she has been building for years.
1. Tonya Harding: When Jealousy Led To The End
Figure skater Tonya Harding couldn’t stand that her team mate and rival Nancy Kerrigan always performed better than her and took the gold, leaving Harding to stew with a silver. Intense rivals both on and off the ice, in 1994, Kerrigan’s knee was hit by a masked assailant. When the case of investigated, it was found out that the attack had been planned by Harding’s ex-husband who roped in a guy to do the actual attack. Later Harding was also charged because of her involvement though she pleaded her innocence throughout. Kerrigan recovered to go win a silver medal in the Olympics while Harding faded into ignominy. This saga is what the 2017 movie I, Tonya is all about – starring Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding and Sebastian Stan as her scheming ex-husband.
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