Sports

The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History 

Ranker Sports
Originally by
14.4k votes 1.6k voters 31.7k views 62 items

List Rules Athletes in any sport that have been embroiled in controversy - domestic disputes, sex scandals, cheating accusations, anything really

Sports stars are one part celebrity, one part athlete. Like so many celebrities, some sports stars are prone to scandal. These sports stars are were involved some of the biggest controversies of all time, and many remain controversial figures to this day despite being retired.

O.J Simpson is perhaps the biggest controversial athlete of all time, for "not killing his ex-wife" in 1994. Remember when one of the best NBA players of all time, LeBron James, took his talents to South Beach? That was definitely a case of a sports star who caused controversy. And then, of course, there's Anna Kournikova, who has caused controversy simply for being beautiful.

Which athletes do you think are the most controversial of all time? What is your definition of controversy? Is it off-the-field antics like the domestic drama surrounding Tiger Woods, or is it on-the-court antics like John McEnroe's famous profane meltdowns?

Which is worse, steroids or biting off someone's ear? The choice is yours! Vote up the stars who've caused the most controversy and if we missed any scandalous athletes, add them to the controversial sport stars list!
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Hope Solo is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
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Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
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Kobe Bryant is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
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Tom Brady is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
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Shoeless Joe Jackson is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
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John Rocker is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
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Diego Maradona is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
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Ty Cobb is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
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Plaxico Burress is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
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LeBron James is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
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Paolo Di Canio is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Mollevangsvagen added
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Manny Ramírez is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
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Sonny Liston is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
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Floyd Landis is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
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Darren Sharper is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
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Allen Iverson is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
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Zola Budd is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added
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Isiah Thomas is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
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Jerrod Mustaf is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Anna Paolinelli added
age 50
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Alberto Contador is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
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Anna Kournikova is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
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Gerald McClellan is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
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Paul Gascoigne is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
MaikPauli added
age 52
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Tyson Fury is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
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Jack Johnson is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History