Professional athletes are supposed to be positive role models and good citizens, and this is because they are idolized by millions and constantly in the public eye. In many cases professional athletes are positive role models and conduct themselves well, but of course this is not always the case. Often athletes will break rules, act violently, gamble, have questionable substances found in their blood work and generally not be who you would want your kids looking up to.
It is inevitable that professional athletes will break the rules from time to time, and there are also many repeat offenders. The way that all professional sports deal with this is through fining the player and handing down a suspension. Too often the fine will be pocket change to these multi-millionaires, so it is the suspensions that will hit them where it hurts. The length of these suspensions will depend on the nature of the crime, with some being just one game all the way through to lifetime suspensions and seeing them stripped of their titles. These suspensions can be particularly effective and stop someone from repeat offending, as in addition to letting themselves down, they are also letting down their teammates, the coaching staff and of course the fans as well.
Throughout sports history there have been some whopping suspensions handed down which have drastically altered the sport and tarnished both reputations and careers.
This list will only include suspensions that took place during a player's career, so Pete Rose's lifetime ban will not be mentioned here, as it occurred after his playing career.
Here are the longest 15 suspensions in sports history.
15 Latrell Sprewell (68 games)
14 Guillermo Mota (100 games)
13 Eric Cantona (8 months)
Eric Cantona is remembered for some brilliant moments on the football pitch, but also one moment of madness that saw him pick up a lengthy eight month suspension and ruin his reputation. In a match against Crystal Palace in 1995, Cantona was sent off for a kick on Palace defender Richard Shaw. Then, as Cantona was walking towards the tunnel, he performed a now infamous ‘Kung-Fu’ style kick into the crowd at a fan that was hurling abuse at the United forward. He was arrested and convicted of assault, but instead of a two week prison sentence he was ordered 120 hours of community service. The F.A suspended Cantona for eight months and the incident is still one of the most memorable in Premier League history.
12 Donte Stallworth (2009 season)
11 Ron Artest (86 games)
10 Nick Diaz (1 year)
9 Marty McSorley (1 year)
8 Alex Rodriguez (162 games)
7 Mariano Puerta (8 years but reduced to 2 years)
6 Billy Coutu (life but reduced to 2 years)
5 Muhammad Ali (3.5 years)
4 Merle Hapes (life but reduced to 8 years)
3 Art Schlichter (life)
2 Stanley Wilson (life)
1 Lance Armstrong (life)
The Lance Armstrong saga shook the entire sporting world to its very core, and the sport of cycling has not fully recovered from the scandal. Here was a man that was idolized by millions, had survived testicular cancer and started the Livestrong Foundation, as well as dominated road racing for many years. He was then exposed for not just taking performance enhancing drugs, but also being the ringleader for what was called “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen”. This marked the most epic fall from grace in sports, and Armstrong was given a lifetime ban from all sports that follow the World Anti-Doping Agency code, and he was also stripped of his seven titles that he won between 1999 - 2005. The president of the International Cycling Union stated “Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling and he deserves to be forgotten”. After such an astonishing scandal, that seems a little unlikely.
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