The cover-up of child abuse allegations against former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky makes our list of the biggest scandals of 2012
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Kurt Tippett (Adelaide Crows)
The Tippett scandal kicked off in early October when the 25-year-old requested a trade to the Swans, earning himself the ire of many who saw him a mercenary following the dollar. Then, however, it emerged the Crows and Tippett had engaged in a secret, under the table deal for Tippett to stay at the club in 2009, engaging in draft tampering and salary cap cheating in the process. Recriminations ensued on both sides, with Tippett claiming he was coerced into taking the deal and promising to sue for damages and loss of earnings if deregistered. As a result, the Crows lost their first two picks for the 2012 and 2013 national drafts and were fined $300,000. Tippett was banned for 11 weeks and fined $50,000, but still managed to make his way to the Swans in the pre-season draft, much to the chagrin of Adelaide supporters.
Fresh from losing the NRL grand final 14-4 to the Storm, complete with James Graham’s biting escapades, Canterbury-Bankstown players managed to plunge rugby league to the depths of taste when vulgar and sexist comments were recorded during the club’s Mad Monday celebrations. The abuse was directed at a female television reporter, including one threat to "punch you in the face." After a tremendous year on the paddock the Bulldogs ended the season ignominiously, a situation made worse by their clumsy handling of the scandal in its aftermath, as detailed on these pages.
Penn State University
The shocking case of child abuse at Penn State cast a shadow over American sport in 2012. Former football coach Jerry Sandusky was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison on counts of molestation dating between 1994 and 2009, though some believe his crimes date back to the 1970s. The saga got even murkier when it emerged that head coach Joe Paterno (a venerated figure who died in January) and other high-ranking figures at the university hushed up the allegations for fear of bad publicity. "Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State," said former FBI director Louis Freeh, hired by Penn State to investigate the whole rotten episode. Penn State's football program was subsequently handed a raft of punishments by the NCAA, including an astonishing $60 million fine.
Olympic badminton tankers
One of the oddest sights of the London Olympics was teams in the badminton women’s doubles deliberately conceding points in an attempt to lose group matches, in order to secure a favourable draw in the next round. Pairs from China (world champion team Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang), South Korea and Indonesia were roundly booed by fans, and eight players were disqualified for "conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport". The teams themselves claimed the round-robin format was to blame for such a farce, with a straight knockout tournament unlikely to lead to such throwing of matches.
One of biggest doping scandals in sporting history finally came to a head in October when USADA confirmed it had "conclusive and undeniable proof" that Lance Armstrong was a ring leader in "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping program that sport has ever seen." The anti-doping agency found that all seven of Armstrong’s Tour de France wins were the result of doping, and also reported he was involved in trafficking and threats against others who might testify against him. Armstrong was stripped of his titles, his own cancer foundation dropped his name and he was banned for life from cycling, a remarkable fall from grace for a man who was once one of the world's most marketable athletes.
Another ugly one from the AFL. Back in April, it emerged that senior official Jason Mifsud spread race-related rumours concerning Melbourne coach Mark Neeld. Neeld, angered by the claims, was alleged by Mifsud to have addressed Melbourne’s indigenous players as a group over the pre-season, as opposed to the individual attention non-indigenous players received. Mifsud offered his resignation to the AFL, which it refused, preferring to let him off with a warning.
Next up: Comebacks
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