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Controversies that rocked sports in 2016: From Russia's doping scandal to Shobhaa De's shameful tweet

By Jayanta Oinam | Updated: Dec 16, 2016, 16:19 PM IST
Controversies that rocked sports in 2016: From Russia's doping scandal to Shobhaa De's shameful tweet

Before we say bye-bye to 2016, here's a look at the controversies which have rocked the sporting world this year.

Russia Doping: Trapped in its own design

Doping continues to be the scourge of Olympic movement, but nobody would have imagined Russia – undoubtedly one of the greatest sporting nations – finding most of its champion athletes debarred from competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics. And it remained one of the biggest talking points of the year.

It's worth noting that German broadcaster ARD, in 2014, reported that Kremlin had been sponsoring doping at an unprecedented level. But it became all too public when the International Olympic Committee (IOC), subsequent to publishing of Richard McLaren-authored WADA report, declared that the eligibility of all Russian athletes participating in Rio Games should be based on an individual case by case, approved by the respective international federation/governing body of each sport.

FIFA Disgrace: World's most popular sport survives nasty fall

FIFA continues its fight against corruption with the arrests of Jeffrey Webb, and the conviction of former boss Sepp Blatter and UEFA chief Michel Platini. The world's most popular game also witnessed its new boss Gianni Infantino, who replaced disgraced Blatter at the helm, contesting charges of wrongdoing in TV deals.

Reports of sexual abuse of young boys in England also maligne sport's image. Barry Bennell, who worked for Crewe, Manchester City and Stoke City, was given a four-year sentence for raping a British boy in 1994. He was also given a nine-year sentence for 23 offenses against six boys in England in 1998.

Then, there are cases, still open, against Barcelona superstars Lionel Messi and Neymar for their high-profile tax fraud charges in Spain. A similar issue emerged recently involving Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.

From Bad to Baddest: Nick Kyrgios becomes tennis' ultimate newsmaker

At a time when tennis world was looking for a new crop of players who can replace ageing superstars Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, prodigious Aussie tennis star Nick Kyrgios continued to present himself as the ultimate bad boy of tennis, an anathema if you may. He pulled out of Rio Olympics, then decided skip Rotterdam Open to play basketball. He even outlandishly cared not to return shots against Mischa Zverev at the Shanghai Masters

Tennis also witnessed a doping ban, with Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova receiving an initial two-year ban for anti-doping violations.

India's Olympic Farce: Too many controversies for its own good

Thanks to three young brave girls PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik and Dipa Karmakar, India returned with some pride intact from the 2016 Rio Olympics. But India's Rio adventure will always be remembered for controversies involving Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel's selfie row, Shobhaa De's unwarranted comments and selection dramas involving legends like Sushil Kumar and Leander Paes which hijacked national consciousness with their respective claims for a place in wrestling and tennis teams.

Then, there were controversies surrounding Salman Khan's appointment as brand ambassador of the Indian contingent for Rio Olympics and Ritu Rani losing her captaincy and a place from the Rio-bound women's hockey team.

Rio's Enduring Nightmare: From water pollution to Zika to withdrawal symptoms

After the success of 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, the world was expecting a blockbuster Olympics in Rio. But the Games of the XXXI Olympiad ran into trouble even before the first day of competition. A never-ending list of issues almost compromised the first ever Games in South America.

There were pollution cries, followed by existential threats after the outbreak of Zika and also security concerns. To make matters worse, top golfers withdrew from the Games. Yes, the sport was making a return to the Olympics fold after more than a century, but the likes of Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy found it too risky or not motivated enough to visit Brazil.

The quadrennial event was also dealt severe blows by the ticket scam, and unsporting actions from both athletes and officials. Prominent among those were Irish boxer Michael Conlan's defeat to Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin in controversial fashion thanks to questionable scoring from judges and the referee, and Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby refusing to shake hand with his Israeli opponent Or Sasson.

Captain's Kiss: Faf du Plessis and Virat Kohli 'caught' ball tampering

Both the Indian and South African captains Virat Kohli and Faf du Plessis found themselves at the wrong end of ball-tampering controversies. A day after the Proteas skipper was “caught on camera putting saliva to the ball’s surface” during the second Test in Hobart against Australia, a British tabloid claimed that Kohli used saliva to shine the ball against England sometime back at Rajkot.

Other cricket controversies were those of Chris Gayle 'Don't blush baby' flirting with Network Ten journalist Mel McLaughlin, for which the West Indian was branded a sexist, and the Indian cricket board's seemingly never ending fight against the Supreme Court appointed Lodha panel on matters of cricket reform.

Besides there were controversies surrounding the selection of Indian cricket team’s head coach, the all too public feud between the two Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg – who eventually retired after winning the Drivers’ Championship, and England football coach Sam Allardyce caught in undercover sting operation.