The Most Controversial Athletes of All Time

Celebrities and scandals or controversies go hand in hand – and sports stars are also celebrities. Thus, athletes are not immune to controversies and are prone to scandal.

Many sports fans believe that their favorite players are sparkling-clean and cannot be subjects of a scandal. However, they are human beings – more so, they are popular human beings, and when you are popular, getting into a scandal becomes inevitable.

In this article, we will consider some of the most controversial athletes of all time. These star athletes are on this list because they got caught up in some of the biggest controversies ever.

Tiger Woods is a golf champion who is an inspirational character to many of his fans. He maintained this image until a sex scandal that destroyed his marriage also destroyed his public image.

After a series of accusations poured on him that he was cheating on his wife with several women, he eventually admitted. Tiger Woods’ scandals were so big that media coverage was bustling; even movies dedicated episodes to them.

  • Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez is a phenomenal football forward, one of the best from Uruguay. During a WC 2014 match, he bit Chiellini, Italy’s defender, which brought huge attention to him, including a 7-match ban.

Also, he bit Otman Bakkal, a PSV defender, and Branislav Ivanovic, a Chelsea defender; he was also banned following these two incidents. During a match against Ghana in the 2010 World Cup, Suarez deliberately handballed, for which Ghana was penalized and he received a sent-off notice.

  • Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson is one of the most controversial athletes ever; his scandals made him more popular than his athletic achievements ever did. In 1992, when he was only eighteen years old, the media convicted him of raping a model.

He was sentenced to ten years in prison, but he only spent three years; he entered another scandal two years later. In 1977, Tyson lost to Evander Holyfield in a boxing match; he could not handle this, so he bit his opponent’s ear. One thing he is known for is his love for cricket betting and you can engage in cricket betting with Parimatch.

  • Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong is known and loved for his cycling skills; his victory over testicular cancer made him an inspirational character. CNN described him as an All-American hero and many of his followers supported his foundation, dedicated to cancer research.

However, Armstrong could not escape the scandal syndrome as he admitted to using steroids for enhanced performance. He lost his place in the International Cycling Union, his Tour de France titles, and his headship of the Livestrong Foundation.

  • Hansie Cronje

Hansie Crone is a South African cricketer and captain of the country’s national cricket team in the 1990s. He died in 2002 in a plane crash; two years later, he became the eleventh greatest South African. Under his leadership, South Africa won many championships, earning him the title of the most successful cricket captain in the game’s history.

However, he lost everything when the police retrieved a recording where he conspired with Sanjay Chawla to match-fix. He confessed to Ali Bacher, after which he was sacked as captain. He later revealed his contact with bookmakers and the tens of thousands he had accepted to throw matches, among other things.

  • Dale Earnhardt

Also known as “The Man in Black” and “The Intimidator,” Dale Earnhardt is a famous seven-time NASCAR champion. Fans loved him for his aggressive driving and cruel tactics, making NASCAR popular.

However, his aggression on the field also caused him a backlash from his fans when in 1999 he smashed Terry Labante into the wall. Fans saw the event as cruel and over one hundred thousand fans showered debris on him for it.

A while later, he explained that he only meant to rattle Labante’s cage, not smash him. Thankfully, the world soon forgave him and he remained a beloved figure – even after his tragic death in 2001.

  • LeBron James

Despite being the all-time fan’s favorite and most skilled basketball player of all time, LeBron James did not escape controversies. It started in 2010 when he announced that he was transferring from Cleveland Cavaliers to Miami Heat. The media criticized him for being narcissistic and a total waste of time after he announced that he was joining the Florida team.

The criticism did not stop; it even intensified when his performance with the Miami Heat was tanked. He made his comeback but he remained a target for criticism for his presumed arrogance and disoriented latter-day playing skills.


Scandals and controversies have caused athletes to lose their prestigious status in the sports industry. Meanwhile, some athletes like O.J. Simpson, who had a murder trial, had entered the limelight due to controversies. Another example is the heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Johnson, who became popular for his racial comments.

There are many more athletes with preposterous controversies that left their fans disappointed and caused them to lose their prestige. From biting off someone’s ear to fixing a match to using steroids to enhance performance, the list of scandals is endless.

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