Corruption, doping and terror cast a dark shadow over 2015 sport

Usain Bolt may have won another three sprint world titles and Chile a first Copa America but it was unprecedented scandals in athletics and football with criminal investigations, arrests and bans that dominated the sports pages in 2015.

Terror also descended on sport as suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the Stade de France as part of the November 13 attacks in Paris while France were playing Germany in the arena - raising concerns about security at Euro 2016.

Before that tournament, the ruling football body FIFA, Europe's UEFA and the largest national single sports federation in the world, the German DFB, required new presidents after corruption probes brought down Joseph Blatter, Michel Platini and Wolfgang Niersbach.

Athletics is not better off, with the former president of the ruling body IAAF, Lamine Diack, under criminal investigation for accepting money to cover up positive doping tests of Russian athletes.

Russia was suspended by the IAAF and risks missing out on the Rio Olympics in an affair which now also reached the office of new IAAF boss Sebastian Coe, whose office director Nick Davies has temporarily stepped down pending an ethics committee investigation into controversial emails he sent.

Davies' December 22 move came the day after FIFA's ethics committee banned Blatter and Platini for eight years over a "disloyal payment" of 2 million dollars Platini received in 2011 for FIFA work done between 1998 and 2002.

Like Platini, Blatter has vowed to appeal the ruling "for myself, for FIFA" but their careers seem over, with Platini unlikely to run for the FIFA presidency on February 26.

Blatter announced on June 2 he would lay down his mandate four days after being re-elected for a fifth term, and six days after seven top officials were arrested in Zurich as part of an American corruption probe mainly directed against Latin American officials and the distribution of marketing rights for events in the region.

More indictments have followed, and apart from FIFA, UEFA and the DFB - engulfed in a probe around a payment of 6.7 million euros (7.3 million dollars) around Germany hosting the 2006 World Cup - the South American body CONMEBOL and the CONCACAF confederation for North, Central America and the Caribbean also need new presidents.

Among those charged are also the last three presidents of the Brazilian football federation CBF, Marco Polo del Nero, Jose Maria Marin and Ricardo Teixeira.

CONMEBOL boss Eugenio Figueredo was suspended and waiting extradition to the US from Switzerland by the time hosts Chile won their first Copa America title, 4-1 on penalties against Lionel Messi's Argentina on July 4.

Messi had to settle for another Barcelona title treble as part of the awesome attacking line with Luis Suarez and Neymar, who was sent off at the Copa as his Brazil exited on penalties against Paraguay in the quarter-finals.

Doping allegations overshadowed the athletics worlds in Beijing, with the superstar Bolt complaining that "all I hear in the last weeks is doping, doping, doping" before he was declared saviour of the sport by beating former doping offender Justin Gatlin in the 100m.

Coe insisted in Beijing that "athletics is ostensibly a clean sport" but the affair around Diack and Russia, which included a police search in the IAAF's Monte Carlo offices, suggested otherwise. Under pressure, Coe also ended a controversial ambassador role for sports goods makers Nike.

But it doesn't stop here as the next WADA revelations are scheduled for January 14.

This could see more suspensions of athletes ahead of the Rio Olympics, and Russia must also comply with a multitude of WADA and IAAF demands if its athletes are to compete.

Rio has its own problems which include the ongoing debate of pollution in its waters.

In other Olympic news, Hamburg's bid for the 2024 Games was stopped by a referendum, after Boston abandoned its bid for the same event after popular dissent and Los Angeles will bid for the US instead.

The withdrawals came on the heels of several cities pulling out of the 2022 Winter Games race where Beijing was elected host in summer over the only other candidate Almaty - despite major snow and pollution concerns.

On the playing field, American football experienced the bizarre Deflategate affair around tampered balls in the conference final of the later Super Bowl champions New England Patriots, while Austrian skier Marcel Hirscher was almost hit by a crashing drone during a slalom race.

Wladimir Klitschko's reign as boxing world champion was ended by Tyson Fury, Britain could celebrated back-to-back Formula One world titles from Lewis Hamilton, New Zealand won the rugby World Cup in England, neighbours Australia claimed a first Asian Cup in football, American teenager Katie Ledecky took five swimming world titles, while Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams each won three of the four tennis majors.

Last update: Sat, 02/01/2016 - 07:47

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