Sports and scandals

Feb. 26, 2004, midnight | By Kent Anderson | 20 years, 3 months ago

First Kobe, then BALCO. St. John's and Colorado were close behind. And now, with the arrest of Ravens' running back Jamal Lewis, the tendency for sports to produce blockbuster-sized scandals has hit a little closer to home.

Sports have always been full of moral and legal problems; these most recent soap operas are just additions to a long list with some illustrious names on it. Who could forget OJ, Pete Rose or Len Bias? Sports produces news headlines like clockwork, sometimes it's hard to keep all the names and events straight, so lets start at the beginning.

Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers' 25-year-old golden boy and one of the best players in the NBA, found himself in hot water over the summer when he was accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old resort worker. The incident occurred on June 30 and has since spawned a media frenzy. The case is still in court and Bryant is still playing ball, but with a lot more weight than his Jorandesque comparisons have put on his shoulders in the past.

Then there is BALCO, short for the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, which was a nutritional supplement company. On Oct. 16 the United States Anti-Doping Agency identified BALCO as the source of the designer steroid THG, which had been made illegal by the Food and Drug Administration. Hundreds of athletes have been caught up in the scandal, including Giant's slugger Barry Bonds and Yankee's first-baseman Jason Giambi, who were both subpoenaed to testify in front of a grand jury that is investigating BALCO. The consequences for both the company and the athletes that are involved have yet to take form.

The St. John's scandal has left a team without its core players and struggling to finish out its regular NCAA season. Six of the school's basketball players were suspended for going to a strip club in McKeesport after they lost to Pittsburgh. This was their first infraction, breaking curfew, and then came the biggie. The players then met a prostitute, Sherri Ann Urbanek-Bach, at the club, who agreed to have sex with them for $1000. After this happened, the players refused to pay and Urbanek-Bach promptly filed rape charges against the players. She was eventually charged with prostitution, attempted extortion and filing fictitious reports. Charges were never filed against the players, but the school took harsh action. One of the players has since been reinstated, one expelled, one left the university, one was suspended for a year and the other two will remain suspended from the basketball team for the remainder of the season.

Colorado's scandal takes this sexual theme to a new level. Multiple women have filed suit against Colorado, the first came forward in Dec of 2001, alleging rape by some of the school's football players and recruits at parties. On Jan 28 Boulder County District Attorney Mary Keenan accused the athletic department of using sex and alcohol to lure recruits to the school. Then on top of all of this, former kicker Katie Hnida comes forward to say that she was raped by a teammate in 2001. This string of events has left the team in upheaval and has resulted in the suspension of Head Coach Gary Barnett.

Now to the most recent controversy and one that is most relevant to our sport's universe, the arrest of Jamal Lewis. The star running back was indicted on Wed, by the FBI, on charges that he conspired to possess and distribute 5 kilograms of cocaine. Lewis pleaded innocent to the federal drug charges on Thurs. We will have to wait and see what happens, but it looks like the Ravens could be out of a running back and struggling to produce any offense next season.

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