On Tuesday night the BBC will honour Sport’s best – but the Guardian has taken a look at the pick of the dark, devious and downright dumb sporting stories …
We are constantly besieged by stories of sporting ne’er-do-wells, of dopers, match-fixers, law-breakers and attention-seekers. None of that nonsense earns a place on this list, for which there is nothing so formal as qualifying criteria but a bit of either consistency or originality is expected.
The end of the year is a time to look back over the past 12 months, to shine an Olympic-sized torch into a few of sport’s darker corners and see what dismal doings come to light. While some of our miscreants have inspired huge controversy, others have slipped under the rage radar; this list of wrongs is the place to put that right.
This has been a classic year for the man they call, worryingly, Raging Bull, who at 20 reached the top of the world squash rankings for the first time. He couldn’t stay there, thanks in part to spending 18 weeks of the year suspended.
The Egyptian was banned for six weeks in March and another dozen in August, both for dangerous play – he accused his opponents of diving – leading his father, Mahmoud, to allege a conspiracy “trying in every way to destroy the future of my son and prevent him from reaching the top”. (Mahmoud was banned from all PSA events between January and November for his part in a violent courtside confrontation.)
In January his semi-final opponent at the Houston Open, Marwan El Shorbagy, was carried off on a stretcher and then to hospital after an “accidental” clash, which looked to many observers like an elbow in the privates. “If this is the future of our sport then good luck,” said El Shorbagy.
There has been a long-running feud with France’s Victor Crouin, the world No 11, who said the Egyptian shows “very poor sportsmanship and a lack of maturity” and “the need to create controversy on and off court”.
But there’s hope for the future – this month Asal apologised for his antics. “I’m happy I’m changing for the good,” he said. We’ll see about that.
Other contenders :
- Aram Nikolyan, Weightlifting flag on fire
- Luis Rubiales and Faruk Koca, Football Kiss and Punch
- Joasia Zakrzewski, running (or not)
- Nasra Abukar Ali, ‘student’ athletics