Athletes And Coaches Who Were Banned For Their Controversial Actions

As long as sports exist, athletes and coaches will find controversial ways to ruin their careers. Sometimes they cheat or gamble their livelihood away. Other times their actions contradict the beliefs of their league. As you’ll soon learn, the marriage between sports and controversy has been going strong since the 1800s and these sports figures paid the price. The real reason Pete Rose will never get into Cooperstown will surprise you.

Tonya Harding’s Violent Tendencies Forced Her Out Of Ice Skating

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Tonya Harding resigned from the United States Figure Skating Association after admitting her involvement in the physical harm of teammate Nancy Kerrigan before the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Harding avoided jail time after pleading guilty to conspiring to hinder prosecution of the attackers.

As punishment for her involvement, she received 500 hours of community service and three years’ probation. She was also forced to pay a $160,000 fine. The United States Figure Skating Association stripped Harding of her 1994 U.S. Championships title. The organization also banned her from coaching for life. Up next, find out if “Shoeless” Joe Jackson deserved to banned at all.

“Shoeless” Joe Jackson’s Ban Is Questionable

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In 1919, the Chicago White Sox had eight players, including “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, banned for life for throwing the World Series. The problem is, Jackson committed zero errors during the World Series. He also batted almost .400.

The would-be Hall of Famer reportedly refused to be bribed several times. The seven other banned “Black Sox” have also admitted that Jackson was never in a meeting about the series. A petition in 2015 urged MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred to reinstate Jackson. Manfred denied the request, stating there was not enough evidence to overturn the 95-year-old decision.

Billy Coutu Is The Only NHL Player Banned For Life

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Billy Coutu received a lifetime ban from the NHL in 1927 after assaulting a referee. The incident occurred during the 1927 Stanley Cup Finals. Coutu’s coach, Art Ross, told the young athlete to start a brawl. Eager to please his coach, Coutu attacked one referee, then tackled a second.

The NHL took harsh action and handed down their first and only lifetime ban. Somehow, the ban was lifted in 1929. Coutu was able to play in the minor professional leagues for the rest of his career. He was officially reinstated by the NHL in 1932 but never made it back to the big show. Next, the true story that Pete Rose refused to tell until his legacy was on the line.

Pete Rose Gambles His Legacy Away

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Three years after retiring from MLB, Pete Rose was banned for life for gambling on baseball games. According to reports at the time, Rose bet on 52 Reds’ games in 1987, wagering up to $10,000 on each one. Rose, one of the Reds’ greatest players of all-time, denied the charges and sued MLB.

Five months after the investigation began, Rose accepted his place on MLB’s ineligible list. He continued to deny any wrongdoing. Rose finally admitted to gambling in his 2004 autobiography, My Prison Without Bars.

Mike Danton Tried To Kill His Agent

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Mike Danton played one season in the NHL before going to prison for attempting to kill his agent in 2004. The NHL never officially banned Denton, but his seven-year prison sentence ensured he never played hockey again.

Danton was caught at the San Jose Airport after the St. Louis Blues were eliminated from the playoffs. He pleaded guilty to hiring a hitman to kill his agent. At the trial, the Judge remarked, “in over 18 years on the bench, I have [never] been faced with a case as bizarre as this one.” In 2009, Danton was granted parole and eventually signed with a professional hockey team in Sweden to continue his career.

The Controversy Surrounding Colin Kaepernick Is Real

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Whether you believe Colin Kaepernick should be playing in the NFL or not, it is hard to deny more than just his athletic ability is keeping him off the field. In his final season with the 49ers, Kaepernick threw 16 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He also kneeled during the National Anthem.

The 49ers went 2-14, and after the season Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers, who were planning on cutting him if he didn’t. No team has signed him since. He is currently suing the NFL for collusion along with former teammate Eric Reid. Keep reading to see how 14 athletes from El Salvador got banned at one time.

El Salvador Has 14 Players Banned For Taking Bribes

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In 2013, the El Salvadorian soccer team was beaten by Mexico 5-0 and Paraguay 4-2. After the matches, FIFA banned 14 players from El Salvador for taking bribes to lose the matches. Several of the players, including Ramon Sanchez and Christian Castillo, were prominent figures in MLS.

The match-fixing was traced back several years and included a United States victory in 2001. The bans by FIFA effectively ended these players’ careers. Because FIFA is the world governing body for soccer, players banned for life are not allowed to suit up for any soccer activities at any level.

Manny Ramirez Retired Instead Of Accepting His Ban

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Manny Ramirez was suspended 100 games by MLB in 2011 for testing positive for steroids for the second time. Instead of accepting his suspension, Ramirez retired. Throughout his career, Ramirez stunned audiences with his power and athletic ability. When he was traded to the Dodgers he was nicknamed “Mannywood” for the show he put on.

Ramirez attempted a comeback later that year, returning to MLB after receiving a reduced suspension. Without the help of steroids, and with his increasing age, Manny Ramirez was never the same player. At one point considered a sure-fire Hall of Famer, Ramirez now shares a legacy as tainted as Barry Bonds, our next athlete.

Barry Bonds Doesn’t Make The Asterisk Look Good

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Another athlete banned without receiving an official ban, Barry Bonds is considered one of the biggest cheaters of all-time. Accused of using steroids late in his career, Bonds was indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice in 2007. Four years later he was convicted. In 2015, the ruling was overturned.

If Barry Bonds was never suspended and cleared his name, you may be wondering why he is on this list. The answer is the asterisk. Because of his possibly tainted accomplishments, Bonds’ record-setting 756th home run was branded with an asterisk, and he is yet to make the Hall of Fame.

Marion Jones Goes To Prison For Steroids

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Marion Jones went to prison for using steroids during her track and field career. Seven years after winning five medals at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Jones became entangled in the same steroid scandal as Barry Bonds. Unlike Bonds, Jones admitted to using steroids.

The Olympic committee stripped Jones of her five medals, three of which were gold. She was also convicted of perjury and lying under oath in previous testimonies where she denied P.E.D. use. A judge sentenced her to six months in prison. She never ran track again.

Lance Armstrong Cheated His Entire Career And Surrendered Every Victory

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Lance Armstrong was forced to vacate his seven Tour De France titles after being banned from cycling in 2012 for cheating. A thorough investigation concluded he used performance-enhancing drugs for his entire career.

In 2013, Armstrong admitted some of the allegations against him were true. He also said that if it was 1995, he would “probably do it again.” CNN wrote in 2015 that Armstrong’s fall from grace “stands out in the history of sports.” Most recently, Armstrong settled out of court with United States Department of Justice for violating his terms of service with the United States Postal Service by lying about his drug use.

Justin Gatlin Barely Avoided A Lifetime Ban For Steroid Use

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Justin Gatlin was given an eight-year suspension in 2006 after testing positive for steroids. Before that, he won a gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in track and field. Ironically, the medal came after Gatlin served a two-year suspension for a failed drug test in 2001.

Gatlin returned to the sport in 2010, successfully appealing to have the suspension reduced. He continued to rack up gold medals, much to the disdain of fans worldwide. The boos could be heard over the medal ceremony at the 2017 World Championships In Athletics where Gatlin beat Usain Bolt for the gold. Keep reading to learn the price Floyd Landis paid for ratting out Lance Armstrong.

Floyd Landis Pays The Price For Coming Clean

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Floyd Landis received a de-facto lifetime ban from cycling in 2011 after he called out Lance Armstrong for steroid use. Landis had just returned from cycling after his own two-year ban when he “blew the whistle” on Armstrong and himself.

In 2006, Landis was suspended for two years after testing positive twice for steroids after the Tour de France. He returned to the OUCH Pro Cycling Team in 2009 and raced for a year before coming clean and taking Lance Armstrong with him. When the team fell apart, Landis found it impossible to find a new sponsor. He competed in one more race as a lone rider before retiring in 2011.

Bruno Refuses To Let Prison End His Career

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Bruno Fernandes da Dores de Souza was transferring to AC Milan when his mistress disappeared in 2010. Bruno was arrested and served six years in prison for her murder but was released after a slow appeals process. The soccer star quickly signed with Boa Esporta Clube.

In an interview with his new club, Bruno said, “What happened, happened. I made a mistake, a serious one, but mistakes happen in life… I’m not a bad guy.” His career was again halted when the Brazilian Supreme Court ordered his arrest again. The star was put back into prison in 2017 after it was discovered his legal team had purposely slowed down the appeals process.

Ray Rice Got Caught Hitting His Girlfriend, Ending His NFL Career

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Coming off his worst statistical year in the NFL, Ray Rice’s problems magnified after he was caught on camera in Las Vegas punching his girlfriend. When reports of domestic violence initially came out, Rice was suspended for two games. When the video leaked to the public, the Ravens fired Rice.

Nearly avoiding a five-year prison sentence, Rice married his girlfriend and agreed to court-supervised counseling. In 2016, Rice promised to donate his entire salary to domestic violence charities if a team signed him. Rice hasn’t played since the incident. Next, the NCAA slaps Baylor with the harshest sanctions ever handed down.

The NCAA Comes Down Hard On Baylor For Murder

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When Baylor basketball player Carlton Dotson murdered his teammate, Patrick Dennehy, in 2003, Baylor got caught in one of the worst college sports scandals of all-time. The case forced the NCAA to investigate Baylor’s basketball program. They uncovered massive recruiting violations and illegal payment to players.

The hardest sanctions were levied on disgraced head coach Dave Bliss. He received a “show-cause penalty” for 10 years. The rule meant that any program who hired Bliss had to report on his activities every six months. In 2010, Bliss was hired by Allen Academy in Texas. He was fired for forging documents a short time later.

Rosie Ruiz Denies Taking The Subway To Win The Boston Marathon

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Rosie Ruiz took the subway to finish the 1980 Boston Marathon in two and half hours. She placed first and maintains her innocence today. Unfortunately, there is too much evidence indicating she cheated to believe her. First, spotters never saw her in the top group of runners during the race.

Spectators chimed in too and claimed after they saw Ruiz getting off the subway. Investigator disqualified Ruiz from the race and gave the crown to Jaqueline Gareau. Ruiz was also disqualified from the New York Marathon after spectators saw her get off the subway again.

Ben Johnson Breaks A Record On His Way To A Lifetime Ban

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Ben Johnson broke the 100-meter dash record at the 1988 Summer Olympics. His time of 9.79 seconds shocked the crowd. One day later he failed a drug test and was stripped of his medal. In 1993, Johnson failed his second drug test. He was banned for life.

The embarrassing event forced Canada to investigate Johnson and his coach. The Dubin Commission uncovered a major track and field scandal. Sadly, the Olympic committee refused to form the World Anti-Doping Committee until 1999, fearing negative publicity from the widespread problem.

Greg Williams Pays A Heavy Price For Promoting Violence

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The NFL suspended Greg Williams indefinitely after he admitted to paying players on the Saints to try and injure opposing players. Several players sunk with Williams’ ship, including Jonathan Vilma. Vilma was suspended for 16 games for being one of the ringleaders of “bountygate.”

Williams signed an affidavit in 2012 admitting to designing the violence-for-pay scheme. After an audio tape came out of him instructing players to injure multiple 49ers, there was no denying the charges. Somehow, the NFL saw it fit to reinstate Williams after one season, citing his desire to take responsibility for the program.

George Bechtel Threw Games, And His Career Away

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George Bechtel is one of the earliest known players who ruined his career by cheating. Playing baseball wasn’t very profitable in the 1800s, so Bechtel would throw games to earn cash on the side. He got caught in 1876 after wiring Jim Devil a message saying, “We can make $500 if you the game today. Tell John [the manager] and let me know at once. BECHTEL.”

Devlin refused to lose for money and showed management the letter. The Louisville Grays suspended Bechtel immediately. The next season Bechtel was denied reinstatement and never played again.

Dick Higham Is The Only Umpire To Ever Be Banned From Baseball

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Before he was an umpire, Dick Higham played professional baseball for nine years, debuting with the New York Mutual in 1871. When his playing days were over, he became an umpire, serving for two years.

Throughout his time as an ump, rumors swirled that he was making bad calls to sway games in his favor. When Detroit Wolverines owner William G. Thompson got suspicious, he hired a private detective to look into the matter. Turns out, Higham had been working with a well-known gambler. The two had outlined a simple code, which they would relay with telegrams. “Buy all the lumber you can” meant the gambler should bet on Detroit. Meanwhile, no telegram meant to bet on the opponent. Higham was fired and banned from baseball.

Tammy Thomas Couldn’t Quit The Steroids

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Tammy Thomas got busted for using performance-enhancing drugs multiple times, which ultimately led to her being banned from cycling for life. The cycling all-star was favored to make it to the Olympics for cycling in 2000 — but when her urine tested positive for steroids, she wasn’t allowed to go.

Luckily for Tammy, she was only hit with a one-year ban from cycling. When she returned in 2002 however, her urine tested positive for anabolic steroids. She was banned from cycling for life shortly after and became involved in a larger federal investigation concerning steroids.

The IAAF Questioned Caster Semenya’s Gender And Argued She Has An Unfair Advantage

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Caster Semenya is a South African middle-distance runner who took home the gold medal at the 2016 Olympics. But since 2009, Semenya’s athletic ability has been highly scrutinized. Semenya has long been ridiculed for her masculine appearance and many have suspected she has taken steroids. As a result, she was subjected to controversial femininity testing to determine if she had acceptable levels of testosterone for a woman.

Semenya’s medical records were leaked and showed she had three times the amount of testosterone as some women, leading some to believe she was intersex. During this process, she was banned for eight months. Eventually, the IAAF argued that woman with hyperandrogenism (higher levels of testosterone) have an unfair advantage.

Stanley Wilson’s Cocaine Habit Landed Him In Prison For 22 Years

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Stanley Wilson was a running back for the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals, whose career was sadly marred by a bad cocaine habit. During his career, he was suspended for the entire 1985 and 1987 seasons after violating the league’s drug policy.

Things only got worse for Wilson. On the eve of Super Bowl XXIII, Wilson’s coach, Jim Anderson, found him high on cocaine and had no choice but to remove him from the roster. As this was his third offense, he was banned from the NFL for life. A decade later, Wilson’s cocaine struggles were still present. He was convicted of stealing $130,00propertyperty to support his addiction. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison.

Art Schlichter’s Compulsive Gambling Habit Cost Him His NFL Career


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During the ’80s, Art Schlichter was known for his moves on the field, playing for the Baltimore Colts, Buffalo Bills, and Ottawa Rough Riders. But Schlichter’s compulsive gambling habit began to tarnish his image and ultimately led to his ban from the NFL.

During his decades-long gambling addiction, Schlichter admittedly committed more than 20 felonies. He gambled away the majority of his earnings from the NFL, Arena League, and radio gigs and moved on to stealing and conning funds from friends and strangers. He was arrested multiple times throughout the late ’80s, ’90s, and ’00s for writing hundreds of thousands of dollars in bad checks. As of 2018, he is in prison and set to be released in October 2020.

Roy Tarpley Is Still The Wolverines’ All-Time Leader In Blocked Shots

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Roy Tarpley had a promising basketball career. He was a star player at the University of Michigan, even earning the Big Ten Player of the Year Award in 1985. He was selected by the Dallas Mavericks the following year and made the NBA All-Rookie Team in his first season.

Tarpley was arrested for drunk driving the following year and suspended from the NBA. He returned in ’91 but was arrested again for DWI. Tarpley couldn’t get his substance abuse under control and after receiving his third violation was permanently banned in ’95. As of 2014, Tarpley was still the Wolverines’ all-time leader in blocked shots.

Hal Chase Bribed Other Players To Throw Games

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Hal Chase was the first baseman for numerous MLB teams and was widely considered one of the best fielders in the position. But throughout his career as both a player and a manager, Chase was accused of various wrongdoings. His former manager, George Stallings, claimed he was “laying down” in games on purpose, but Stallings was widely disliked by the team and soon enough, Chase took over his position.

Chase returned to the field as a player the following year and was accused of bribing other players to throw games. He apparently paid pitcher Himmy Ring $813 (adjusted for inflation) to lose against the Giants. In a bigger scandal, it was discovered Chase had received more than $8,000 (adjusted) from a gambler. Eventually, his unsavory past caught up to him and he was banned from the MLB.

Connie Hawkins Was Accused Of Point Shaving


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Connie Hawkins, nicknamed “The Hawk” was an American basketball player in the American Basketball League, Amerian Basketball Association, National Basketball Association, Harlem Globetrotter and Harlem Wizard. He received a scholarship to play basketball at the University of Iowa. During his freshman year, he was caught up in a point-shaving scandal which came to be known as the 1961 college basketball gambling scandal.

Although he was not arrested, he was expelled from Iowa and blackballed from college basketball. This also carried over to the NBA and other leagues. In the end, he sued the NBA for mistreatment and won where he eventually played for the Phoenix Suns.

Michael Vick Was Involved In Dog Fighting


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Michael Vick was a professional football quarterback who played in the National Football league. he played a total of 13 seasons playing with the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles. graduating from Virginia Tech, he was the first pick of the 2001 NFL and had a promising career ahead of him. However, in 2007, he pleaded guilty to his involvement in a dog fighting ring and spent 21 months in prison.

The public and fans did not respond kindly to this news and he was later released by the Falcons before his release from prison. Although he later signed with the Eagles in 2009, his career was never the same as he was shunned by the football community.

Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle Were banned At The Same Time


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Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle were professional players in the MLB and close friends. They are both considered to be two of the best center fielders and overall players of all time. However, in 1983, after their baseball careers were over, the two both got jobs as greeters at casinos in Atlantic City.

Upon hearing the news, MLB commissioner Bowie Kuhn banned them from baseball entirely because they were associating with gambling. After a few years, the next commissioner Peter Ueberroth didn’t think that the ban was right and reinstated both of them in 1985.

Eddie Cicotte


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Eddie Cicotte was a famous baseball pitcher involved in the Black Sox Scandal. During the 1910s, he was widely considered to be one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. He won 29 games in 1919 and had a contract that he would double his contract if he ended up winning 30.

The owner of the White Sox at the time told the team manager to bench Cicotte for the whole game so he couldn’t earn his bonus. So, an angry Cicotte took money to throw the entire series. He was then permanently ineligible for professional baseball after the act.

Dexter Manley Was Caught using Drugs Twice


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Nicknamed “The Secretary of Defense”, Dexter Manley is a former American football defensive end. Throughout his 11-year career, he played for the Washington Redskins, Phoenix Cardinals, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Manley had a cocaine problem throughout his career and when he failed his third drug test in 1989, he was banned from football. Although Manley appealed and was reinstated, in 1991, he failed another drug test and was kicked out of the NFL for good.

Jenrry Mejia Couldn’t Stay Off PED’s


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Jenrry Mejia is a Dominican professional baseball player. As an international free agent, he signed with the New York Mets of the MLB in 2007 and made his MLB debut in 2010. Then, in 2015, he was suspended after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

He tested positive again later that year and a third time in 2016. The led to him being permanently banned from Major League Baseball. He is the first player to receive a lifetime band under MB’s steroids suspension policy.

Jack Molinas’ Scandal Caught Up With Him


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Jack Molinas graduated from Columbia University after setting a team record for most points played in a game. He was then drafted and briefly played in the NBA through the 1953-1954 season. However, it was later revealed that Molinas was at the center of one of the biggest basketball point-shaving scandals.

Although the scandal happened in 1951, he didn’t suffer consequences until 1954. He was banned from the league for life and was unfortunately shot 20 years later in what was believed to be related to unpaid debts.

Marty McSorley Assaulted Another Player


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Marty McSorley played in the National Hockey League from 1983 until 2000. He was also the former head coach of the Springfield Falcons in the American Hockey League from 2002-2004. Yet, in 2000, he assaulted Donald Brashear on the ice with his stick, giving him a major concussion.

McSorley was the convicted of assault and suspended from playing for an entire year. Instead of sitting out the suspension, he quit the NHL. Although it’s not technically a ban, he saw it as one.

Roger Brown Was Accused Of Association


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Roger Brown was a star at George W. Wingate High School and signed to play for the University of Dayton in 1960. Then, he was banned from the National Collegiate Athletic Association and National Basketball Association when it was discovered he was involved with Jack Molinas and illegal point shaving.

However, he was never accused of actual point shaving but just being associated with Jack Molinas which was good enough. By the time the NBA reinstated Brown, he was too old to play in the league.

Tim Montgomery Went From Gold Medalist To Heroin Dealer


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Tim Montgomery is a former track and field star who specialized in the 100-meter dash. In 2005, he was stripped of all of his medals, world records, banned for life from track and field. He had been found guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs and played a key role in the BALCO Scandal.

After he moved on from tack and field, he was convicted for New York-based check fraud and dealing heroin in Virginia. Looks like Montgomery had a better chance sticking with track and field rather than dealing heroin.

Michael Ray Richardson Went From The NBA To Coaching In Canada


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Michael Ray Richardson was a professional basketball player in the National Basketball Association. He played in the league for eight years for the New York Knicks and Jersey Nets. However, in 1986, Richardson was banned from the NBA for life for his problems with drugs and alcohol.

He was once banned in 1986 for his third failed drug test, reinstated in 1988, and banned for good after failing in 1991. He went on to coach in the National Basketball League of Canada.

Buck Weaver Maintained He Was Innocent For The Rest Of His Life


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Buck Weaver was another professional baseball player that was accused of being the eighth man in the Black Sox Scandal. However, he denied taking money in order to throw the World Series game. He was backed up by his own teammates as well as the gamblers involved.

Although he didn’t participate, he was accused of having knowledge of the plot. It is even known that Buck Weaver played particularly well in the game so he couldn’t have helped through the game. Regardless, commissioner Mountain Landis banned him from professional baseball regardless that he claimed to be innocent for the rest of his life.

Chris Washburn Was Banned After Just Two Years


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After playing basketball for North Carolina University, Chris Washburn was the number three pick of the 1986 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors. Unfortunately, he had tendinitis in his knee which required anti-inflammatory medicine and caused him to develop a kidney infection.

He later admitted to having a cocaine addiction and checked himself into rehab. By 1989, Washburn had received a lifetime ban from the NBA after failing three drug tests in three years. So, he went on to play basketball abroad in a variety of countries.