• Tennis star Maria Sharapova has been banned for two years by the ITF after failing a drugs test. (AAP)
Athletes can be great role models. But sometimes… not so great. Here are 9 times good sports women went bad.
Erin Byrnes

23 Jun 2016 - 7:30 AM  UPDATED 23 Jun 2016 - 7:30 AM

1. Abby Wambach gets busted drink driving

In April this year, shortly after retiring in a blaze of glory, football’s golden girl was caught at the wheel in Oregon with a blood alcohol reading of 0.13 percent. After driving and influencing the US women's national team for much of her career, it sucked to see Wambach under the influence herself, in the worst possible sense. But what was even grosser? The response from some national US men’s team members, who took a swipe at Wambach over the incident, as payback for her criticism of the men’s coach for bringing in foreign players and not developing domestic junior players. Made US Soccer’s slogan “One Nation. One Team” ring pretty hollow.

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2. Hope Solo’s clean sheet gets super dirty super fast

Not sure what it is about the Pacific North West of the United States, but Wambach’s USWNT teammate Hope Solo also found herself foul of the law in that part of the world, when she was arrested over an alleged domestic violence attack against her half sister and teenage nephew in Seattle. She was also reportedly violent with the officers making the arrest. Solo denied the charges and has been fighting them ever since - earlier this month, a US court rejected her bid to have the case thrown out.

The incident has unfortunately not seen A New Hope (Star Wars pun 100 percent intended). In October last year, Solo and her husband Jerramy Stevens were pulled over while driving a US soccer team van, and were allegedly combative with police. Stevens was subsequently jailed for drink driving. 

3. Brittney Griner’s real life soap opera

It’s not just soccer stars that can find themselves in hot water with the law. In April 2015, Griner and her then fiancee, fellow WNBA player Glory Johnson, were both arrested by police after the pair were involved in a physical fight in their home. They got married a few weeks later, then confirmed that Johnson was pregnant on June 4. The following day, they announced their separation. Enough to give you whiplash. The pair faced off on opposite sides of the court this week - their interaction was ice cold, but calm. 

4. Nancy Kerrigan / Tonya Harding

Another case of violence involving two female athletes, only this one was so insane that it sounds made up. The figure skaters were intense rivals on and off the ice, and in January 1994, that escalated a billion notches when Kerrigan was smashed in the knee with a metal bar by a mystery hitman. Harding was later charged for her involvement, (the attack was planned by her ex-husband and her bodyguard) while Kerrigan recovered and went on to earn silver in the Winter Olympics. There may be a moving coming out about it! That may star Margot Robbie!

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And just in case you have any doubt about the cultural importance of the incident, it was parodied on The Simpsons.

5. Jennifer Capriati starts out good. Goes bad. Then gets real good again

A tennis prodigy, Capriati incredibly reached the top ten in the world at just 14 years of age, in 1991. But like so many child stars, it all started to go south for her just a few years later. A battle with depression lead to arrests for shoplifting and drug possession, then an extended break from the sport. It could have ended there, but Capriati came roaring back to win the Australian Open in 2001 and 2002, and the French Open in 2001. There was a period during the late 90's/early 2000's when you could have sworn she'd officially changed her name to Comeback Queen Jennifer Capriati, such was the (deserved) prevalence of the moniker.

6. Marion Jones gets stripped of her medals

Until March 2016, you would have been hard pressed to name a higher profile drug scandal. Jones, a freakishly talented athlete, played basketball in college before switching full time to track and field. She won 3 gold and 2 bronze medals at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, but had the titles taken from her after she was found guilty of doping. She did jail time in 2008, after admitting that she lied to federal agents investigating the case.  

7. Maria Sharapova’s unread emails

We’re all guilty of failing to read boring mail (bills and such) or scanning an email from the boss without really reading it. (Just kidding, Zela Ed!) But Sharapova took it to a new level, when she allegedly failed to stay informed on WADA’s banned substances list, and was subsequently caught with an illegal drug in her system. Sharapova - one of the biggest names in world sport - has been dealt a two year ban, but has signalled that she will appeal.

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8. All of the Dawn Fraser scandal

Ah, Dawn Fraser. A woman so good at creating controversy, we had hard time picking exactly which one to cover. 

Naturally, we decided to go with the most badass. In 1964, Fraser - a huge star with five gold medals to her name - was banned from swimming for 10 years after stealing an Olympic flag from outside the Emperor’s palace in Tokyo. Although it can’t really be considered stealing if she got caught… Can you just imagine if the Liesel Jones had been caught nicking a souvenir from Buckingham Palace during the London Games? The 60’s were a crazy time man.

Fraser's larrikinism isn't all fun and thievery though - most recently, she was called out for controversial comments against Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic, using the old "go back to where you came from" jibe most commonly heard in playgrounds and Australian Parliament. Dawn, please don't become that weird racist aunty no one wants to sit next to at Christmas. Just be cool. 

9. Lisa De Vanna and the inflatable penis

Nowadays, the co-captain of the Matildas is a squeaky clean, all-round great role model. But back in the day she was a wild unit - the forward was rapped over the knuckles in 2010, after the mother of a 13 year old fan complained about photos of De Vanna posing with a large inflatable penis on her Facebook page. We reckon it was all blown out of proportion. Sorry. We’ll show ourselves out.

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