5 sporting scandals that led to heavy penalties

By Mark Walker, PA

Saracens must play in the second tier next season after breaching Premiership Rugby’s salary cap regulations.

The London club have won the Gallagher Premiership title in four of the last five seasons, but will be relegated to the Championship at the end of the current campaign.

Here, the PA news agency looks at five other occasions when a famous club or sporting superstars were caught breaking the rules.

Juve in ‘cheat’ humiliation

The Italian football scandal, or Calciopoli as it became known, ended with the relegation of Serie A champions Juventus – who were also stripped of their title – to Serie B. AC Milan, Lazio, Fiorentina and Reggina were also punished in the match-fixing scandal after police had uncovered an elaborate network of managers and referee organisations whose aim was to select favourable officials for certain matches.

Johnson’s drugs shame

Ben Johnson’s stunning performance at the Seoul Olympics was scrubbed from the record books (PA)

Ben Johnson’s victory over nemesis Carl Lewis to win 100 metres gold at the Seoul Olympics in 1988 in a time of 9.79 seconds was one of sport’s genuine jaw-dropping moments. The Jamaica-born sprinter produced another three days later when he was disqualified. Johnson’s urine sample had contained traces of stanozolol and he later admitted he had been doping when setting a new world record in 1987. The disgraced athlete was banned for life after failing another drugs test in 1993.

Armstrong stripped of Tour de France titles

Years of cover-ups and denials finally caught up with American cyclist Lance Armstrong in 2012 when a United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) investigation found Armstrong had used performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career. He was stripped of all of his achievements from August 1998 onwards, including his record seven Tour de France titles, and handed a lifetime ban from the sport. He confessed during an interview with Oprah Winfrey on television in 2013.

Spain’s Paralympic basketball scandal

The Paralympic flag was tarnished by Spain’s basketball team in Sydney (Lynne Cameron/PA)

Spain’s Paralympic claimed gold at the Sydney Paralympics in 2000 but soon after a member of their team, Carlos Ribagorda, revealed 10 of the 12-strong squad, which beat Russia in the final of the intellectual disability tournament, suffered no handicap. Following an investigation the team was disqualified, all their gold medals were returned and president of the Spanish Federation for Mentally Handicapped Sports, Fernando Martin Vicente, resigned.

Aussies exposed in ball-tampering storm

Australia’s Steve Smith, right, and David Warner were both handed 12-month bans (Mike Egerton/PA)

Australia’s Test cricket team was brought to its knees in 2018 by the ball-tampering scandal which led to long bans for captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft. Bancroft was caught attempting to tamper with the ball with what was later revealed to be sandpaper during the third Test in South Africa. Cricket Australia’s investigation found Warner to be responsible for devising the plan, while Smith was found to be aware of the plan and failed to take steps to stop it.