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5 Sports Legal Issues That Won't Go Away

By Jason Beahm | Last updated on

It's been a busy 2010 at Tarnished Twenty. Their super hero physique might make you believe otherwise, but athletes are human like the rest of us. This year they have certainly given us a lot of repeat topics. Let's look at some of the most recurring sports legal issues of the year.

Contract Disputes

"Show me the money!" Sure, they might love the game, but it's still a job and pros want to get paid. In July we had a post about new USC coach Lane Kiffin who was in a dispute with Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher. Fisher accused Kiffin of "poaching" one of his coaches. That didn't phase Kiffin, he's certainly been accused of worse.

Only in sports law do contract disputes involve grown men dressed as Pierogi. The Pittsburgh Pirates fired one of their mascots for criticizing the contracts of the team's general manager and head coach.


Most sports are violent competitions, and there is always a question as to whether it bleeds into an athlete's regular life. That question is best examined at another time, but there certainly were plenty of violent sports legal issues to report on in the sports world this year.

Jamie Blatnick of Oklahoma State was charged with assaulting teammate Stephen Denning by hitting him in the face with a beer bottle. Former boxing champ Evander Holyfield was accused of choking, hitting and throwing a bottle of water at his wife. And not to be outdone, Cincinnati Bengals RB Cedric Benson was charged with misdemeanor assault after allegedly punching a bar employee and spitting blood on him.

Drugs and Alcohol

Despite the fact that most have the resources to hire a driver or know someone that would pick them up, athletes still find themselves in bad situations involving drugs and alcohol. NBA star Jayson Williams found himself facing separate DWI charges after pleading guilty to aggravated assault in the accidental shooting of his driver. Detroit Lions president Tom Lewand pleaded guilty to DUI after being seen crossing over multiple lanes leaving a bar's parking lot. He registered a 0.21 BAC. Colts' John Gill was found face down in a ditch passed out. He was arrested for public intoxication, which was later dropped. The team is sticking by him, trying to help him through his struggles.


In a surprise ruling, the teammates of Marion Jones were able to get their medals back despite Jones admission of doping. And, of course, we've covered the recurring drama that is Lance Armstrong, Floyd Landis and allegations of doping. It's become a yearly tradition, like Brett Farve retiring and then unretiring.

Sexual misconduct

Some say that we are only as loyal as our options, and professional athletes have plenty of options. Rick Pitino admitted to sexual relations with Karen Sypher after she attempted to extort money from him. Ben Roethlisberger was involved with a messy incident with a 20-year-old women that accused him of sexual assault. The accusations were a major hit to Roethlisberger's image.

. . .

So do athletes get in more trouble than the rest of us, or is it just more widely reported? Another question best saved for another day.

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