From Australia's ball-tampering scandal to Serena's cheating row, here are top sports controversies of 2018

 | Updated: Dec 17, 2018, 09:32 AM IST

From Serena Williams to Mithali Raj, from Steve Smith to Sergio Ramos, here is a list of players who made headlines for controversies.

Larry Nassar

The former US gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar was charged with sexual abuse of some elite gymnasts. 

His criminal acts of sexual assault were the basis of the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal, in which he was accused of molesting at least 250 girls and young women and 1 young man.

Nassar's victims included Olympic champions Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber and McKayla Maroney. 

He was jailed for molesting girls and young women under the guise of treatment in his Michigan State University (MSU) clinic.

More than 150 women spoke out over a sentencing hearing in Michigan that lasted more than a week.

The scandal prompted the entire board of directors at Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics to resign, along with the president and athletic director at Michigan State University, where Nassar also worked. 


A file photo of Steve Smith and David Warner

The infamous ball-tampering shook up the entire cricket fraternity when the ugliest side of Australian cricket was seen during the Test against South Africa in Cape Town when Australian skipper, Steve Smith admitted to altering the condition of the ball.

Australian batsman Cameron Bancroft was caught in the camera when he took out a yellow-colored sandpaper from his pocket and applied on the ball to increase the roughness of one side of the ball to make it swing in the flight.

International Cricket Council(ICC) gave them a bit of leeway while punishing them for altering the condition of the ball in order to win the match, Cricket Australia went ahead and slapped the men in question - Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft- with stringent bans. 

Smith and Warner were given one-year bans after being found of guilty and a nine-month ban to Cameron Bancroft for playing his part in the infamous incident that rocked the nation.  


Sergio Ramos

Real Madrid's defender Sergio Ramos controversially injured Liverpool's Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah at the Champions League 2017-2018 final.

The Spanish giants defeated Liverpool to win the UCL title, however, the final became popular sue to Ramos-Salah row.

In the 30th minute, Salah's right hand got stuck with Ramos and he landed heavily on his shoulder which resulted in his exit from the field in tears. 

Salah suffered a shoulder injury and missed the opening match of Group A against Uruguay of football World Cup.

Many Liverpool supporters blamed Ramos for the clash, which went unpunished by the referee, saying he inflicted a judo-style move on his opponent and a petition was raised calling for FIFA and UEFA to punish Ramos.


Raheem Sterling

Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling accused media newspapers of helping to "fuel racism" with the way they portray young black footballers after he suffered alleged abuse during Manchester City's defeat at Chelsea during a Premier League match.

Chelsea and the police are investigating the incident which was highlighted on social media.

Sterling, 24, posted on Instagram, referencing a story from January about City teammate Tosin Adarabioyo reportedly buying an expensive house despite never having started a Premier League match.

Sterling received a barrage of abuse from home supporters as he retrieved the ball from behind the goal during the first half of the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, which City lost 2-0.

Sterling was widely criticised again ahead of this year's World Cup in Russia for having a tattoo of a gun on his leg. 

He explained it was a tribute to his father, who was shot dead in his birthplace of Jamaica when Sterling was just two years old.


Serena Williams

Serena Williams' post-pregnancy after having a complicated pregnancy comeback was celebrated but also was marred by several controversies during the year 2018. 

Serena Williams took to the court at Roland Garros wearing her 'Black Panther' catsuit which she insisted also performed a key health role for a woman who had suffered life-threatening blood clots when giving birth last year. 

However, weeks after the tournament ended, French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli created an uproar when he said the catsuit would be banned as it "had gone too far". 

Apart from that, the major controversy that tainted Serena's image was the cheating row that surfaced during the US Open women's final which was won by Japan's Naomi Osaka.

During the match, Williams got angry after receiving a warning by umpire Carlos Ramos and was handed a code violation for coaching. 

She told the umpire that she was just getting a thumbs up: "I don't cheat to win I'd rather lose. I'm just letting you know that," says the American.

Furious Serena demanded an apology from the official and even accused the umpire of being a "thief". 

She even made headlines when she was referred to as "Mrs Williams" in the Wimbledon Championship.


Mithali Raj

Senior Indian woman cricketer and ODI captain Mithali Raj lashed out at Committee of Administrators' member Diana Edulji and coach Ramesh Powar.

She responded to coach Ramesh Powar's allegations that she threatened retirement over a batting position, threw tantrums and created chaos in the side during the World T20.

Raj was dropped from the World T20 semi-final against England which raised quite a few eyebrows.

Because she was dropped despite scoring back-to-back fifties in the group stage of the competition held in the West Indies. 

"For the first time in a 20 year long career, I felt deflated, depressed and let down. I am forced to think if my services to my country are of any value to a few people in power who are out to destroy me and break my confidence," Mithali wrote in a letter to BCCI CEO Rahul Johri and Cricket Operations GM Saba Karim. 

Harmanpreet Kaur and her deputy Smriti Mandhana demanded Powar's return despite senior player Mithali Raj's fallout with him. 


Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton remained in headlines for his stunning speed on the tracks but despite winning the Formula One championship, Hamilton was in headlines due to his comments on India.

He questioned Formula One's policy of organising races in new countries after this month's announcement of the Vietnam Grand Prix.

Hamilton told the BBC that he would prefer to see more stops in countries with a genuine racing tradition, rather than expanding to new markets.

"On the racing side, I don't know how important it is to go to new countries as such," said Hamilton who sealed his fifth world title last month.

"If you had the Silverstone Grand Prix and a London Grand Prix, it would be pretty cool."

He added: "I've been to Vietnam before and it is beautiful. I've been to India before to a race which was strange because India was such a poor place yet we had this massive, beautiful grand prix track made in the middle of nowhere. I felt very conflicted when I went to that grand prix."

"We had a grand prix in Turkey and hardly anyone came. Cool track, cool weekend but poor audience."

He later clarified but the damage was already done and he faced criticism for the same.