30 famous athletes who received lifetime bans
For as much as professional leagues and worldwide athletic agencies like to prop up the sanctity and purity of their respective games, sports are magnets for controversy. Baseball writers may be more inclined to vote alleged performance-enhancing drug users into the Hall of Fame, and sports gambling is becoming more ingrained in our daily game-watching experience, but righteous indignation often outweighs such modern changes in attitude.
Searching through a variety of sports, taking into account athletes, coaches, owners, and even umpires, Stacker lists 30 famous athletic figures who received lifetime bans. Some of the biggest names in American sports history have been embroiled in controversy, as have powerful players behind the scenes. Sometimes, bans have been overturned and other punishments came down with little evidence, but more often than not the affected parties were unable to rebound from their sentences.
Who can forget Lance Armstrong's meteoric rise to fame and his equally stunning plummet due to doping? Pete Rose remains a topic of debate in baseball; despite his record number of career hits, he is not in the Hall of Fame for his involvement in gambling. These misdeeds are just a few of the punishable offenses this list will dig into. There's also those who conspired to throw games, the Olympian who cheated in a race by hitching a ride in a car, and the baseball star who stole cars.
There are even cases where the offenders were just kids, part of a grand scheme hatched by elders hungry for power and success. Heck, national icons like Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays were not even immune from punishment for supposed misdeeds, actions that today would hardly garner a snide side eye from critics. Click through to find out about these stories and more, and what happened to some of the sports world's most controversial participants.
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Lance Armstrong inspired audiences around the world in the late 1990s, coming back from a cancer diagnosis to win seven Tour de France titles. Armstrong had one of the most precipitous falls from grace when in 2012, he faced allegations of using banned drugs and utilizing illegal blood transfusions and received a lifetime ban for doping.
Drafted seventh overall in the 1986 NBA Draft, Roy Tarpley was supposed to be a future cornerstone for the Dallas Mavericks. Bouts with drugs and alcohol addiction forever held back his potential, however, and after multiple violations of league rules Tarpley was permanently banned in 1995. Tarpely died in 2015, at age 50.
Until he died in 1951, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson maintained his innocence that he did not conspire to throw the 1919 World Series. Jackson was one of eight members of the Chicago White Sox accused in the “Black Sox” scandal, and they were all tossed out of baseball in 1921. Despite numerous efforts to have Jackson reinstated to be eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame, his legacy remains outside the hallowed halls of Cooperstown.
Rolando Paulino and Felipe de Jesús Almonte
In 2001, a flamethrowing phenom from the Bronx garnered national headlines. Danny Almonte was already being touted as a future major leaguer at the age of 12—until he was discovered to be 14. Almonte's team's Little League World Series wins were forfeited and the team's manager, Rolando Paulino, and Almonte's father, Felipe de Jesús Almonte, were barred from Little League.
An eclectic reliever for the New York Mets, Jenrry Mejia was known for stomping the ground after collecting a save. In 2016, Major League Baseball put its foot down on Mejia's career, as he became the first player to receive a permanent ban for performance-enhancing drug use after his third infraction. Three strikes and he was out of baseball.
In a June 1983 bout between Luis Resto and Billy Collins Jr., Resto was found to have used tampered gloves with little padding. Collins' eyes were so badly damaged his career ended shortly after and Resto's trainer, Panama Lewis, was permanently stripped of his license by the New York State Athletic Commission—a ruling that other states followed.
In April 2014, a recording of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling making racist comments was released, sending shockwaves through the NBA. In a few days, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling for life, and he was fined $2.5 million. The Clippers are now owned by Microsoft pillar Steve Ballmer.
During the 1904 Olympic marathon event, Fred Lorz began to cramp up, and he flagged down an automobile tracking the race. Lorz hopped in and rode 11 miles before getting out to finish the rest of the race, which he won. For his hijinks, Lorz was banned by the Amateur Athletic Union, but later won reinstatement.
Referees can often push athletes' patience to their limits, but Boston Bruins player Billy Coutu took his displeasure to an extreme. During the 1927 playoffs, Coutu attacked referee Jerry Laflamme. Coutu was expelled from the NHL and fined $100. Coutu's punishment remains the harshest in NHL history.
In the late 1870s, George Hall was one of baseball's preeminent sluggers, but in 1877 he became the subject of controversy. Hall admitted to fixing games and was never reinstated into the National League.2018 All rights reserved.