Last week I gave you some examples of sports scandals from the past. Today I will conclude those thoughts thanks to the Internet and my impeccable memory.
Canadian figure-skating pair Jamie Sale and David Pelletier performed a near-perfect program only to receive ordinary scores from the judges in the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.
They tried just to smile it off, but they remained puzzled, along with people worldwide. A probe ensued, exposing collusion between Russian and French judges, who agreed to swap votes in the sordid deal. Eventually the Canadian duo was awarded gold medals and a share of first place.
As the investigation continued, there were allegations that implicated a famous Russian mobster as one of the masterminds behind the scandal. And we thought this stuff didn’t happen anymore!
Steroids and performance enhancing drugs have always been a problem in all sports. Nobody wanted to talk about it, especially in the San Francisco area inhabitants when the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) was exposed for mass producing and distributing illegal anabolic steroids.
BALCO’s founder Victor Conte was quick to drag sports icons down with him as he incriminated Barry Bonds and American track star Marion Jones for steroid use. It wasn’t long after that the American Congress invited the executives of the four major sports leagues in for an investigation and “suggested” they beef up their drug policies.
In an interview with ABC’s 2020, Conte claimed to not only have supplied the five-time medalist, Jones, with illegal steroids and growth hormones, but he also sat right beside her while she injected the drugs into her thigh.
A hockey player hired a hit man, a botched murder and the craziest sports scandal ever is next: In 2004, Mike Danton, a former St. Louis Blue’s player, enlisted the help of a 19-year old girl to hire a hit man, who turned out to be a police dispatcher. The FBI was quickly alerted and Danton was convicted of plotting to commit murder, with the exact target still unknown.
The details were muddy and the suspected motives vague. Some believed Danton was trying to remove a gay lover threatening to out him, while others claimed he was attempting to end a miserable relationship with a controlling agent. The agent’s name was David Frost.
It was reported that Frost forced Danton to sever his relationship with his parents and that Frost controlled Danton in some evil way.
Frost’s influence over Danton was frequently discussed but really hit the fan when a transcript of a prison telephone call was revealed to the public after Danton’s arrest. At the end of the phone call, Frost asked Danton, “Do you love me?” Frost pressed Danton to reinforce his positive response twice!
One of my favorite scandals involved Tonya Harding. This was a talented skater who didn’t need to do what she did. Since 1994 was a while back I will capsulize what happened.
Harding hired Shane Stant to put fellow rival Nancy Kerrigan out of commission at the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Stant bashed Kerrigan’s knee at a practice session and fled the scene.
But soon after Harding’s ex-husband cut a deal with authorities when he spilled the beans of their scheme and implicated Harding. Harding had to plead guilty and received three years probation. I’ll never understand that slap on the wrist!
She, of course, was stripped of the title in 1994 and banned from U.S. figure skating. She also was fined $160,000. Kerrigan recovered from her injury and competed in the next Winter Olympics.
You would think that Harding would climb into a hole but she arrogantly, in my opinion, made a pornographic tape and posed for Penthouse magazine. She also had a brief boxing career and ran into the law several times for drunk driving and domestic violence.
Contact Don Alexander at Journaldon@aol.com.