Tarnished Twenty - FindLaw Sports Law Blog

Tarnished Twenty - The FindLaw Sports Law Blog - features sports law news and info about sports figures in trouble with the law


Rafael Nadal has filed a defamation lawsuit against Roselyne Bachelot, France's former minister for health and sport, claiming that statements she made regarding doping damaged his reputation. Bachelot was on French television last month and said Nadal's seven-month injury hiatus in 2012 was "probably due to a positive doping test."

Nadal lashed back, saying, "I am tired about these things. I let it go a few times in the past. No more." The 14-time Grand Slam champion added, "this is going to be the last one because I'm going to sue her."

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court ruling and reinstated the Roger Goodell's four-game suspension of Tom Brady in response to his involvement in a scheme to deflate game balls before the 2014-15 AFC Championship game. An NFL-funded investigation last year determined it was "more probable than not" that Patriots personnel altered game balls and that Brady was likely involved.

Brady and the NFL Players Association challenged the suspension on evidentiary and procedural grounds, but he's running out of options to have the suspension overturned again. So what happens next?

Sports, like any other profession or pastime, has had its share of lawbreakers. From your petty shoplifters to your international conspirators, athletes are just as likely to wind up on the wrong side of the law as the rest of us. The only difference is there's normally a much bigger spotlight on Pacman Jones than your Average Joe.

Here are five of the most infamous criminals from the wide world of sports:

The majority of stadium deals are boondoggles at best and scams at worst -- franchises hold cities hostage, extorting public funds to pay for stadiums in return for the promise to stay and play in that stadium, at least for a few years until the team threatens to leave again, if the city or county don't pony up for improvements or a brand new stadium.

Back in 1998, the Arizona Diamondbacks played their first game in Chase Field, a stadium that cost Maricopa County over $250 million in taxpayer funds. Now the D-Backs are threatening to bail on Chase Field or sue the county if it doesn't pay for improvements or hand the field over to the team.

Nobody likes NFL games on Thursday night. Teams don't like them. Players don't like them. The media don't like them. And fans don't like them. Nobody likes NFL games on Thursday night except for the league, and Twitter, apparently.

The ever-evolving social media app allegedly plunked down $10 million for the right to stream 10 Thursday night NFL games during the 2016-17 season. Considering the NFL started the bidding at $250 million, that's a cut-rate price to air a product most people want cut from the schedule entirely.

A year ago today, NYPD officers arrested Atlanta Hawks forward Thabo Sefolosha and teammate Pero Antic outside a club in the Chelsea neighborhood. Police threw Sefolosha to the ground and placed him in cuffs so forcefully he broke his tibia and suffered ligament damage in his right leg.

Now Sefolosha is suing the NYPD and the five officers who arrested him, claiming extensive injuries and damages based on false arrest, excessive force, and malicious prosecution.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, the release of 11 million documents detailing some shady financial dealings of the world's shadiest characters involved a few members of the world's shadiest sports organization. The Panama Papers data dump, highlighting the pervasive use of offshore accounts and tax havens to skirt tax laws, appears to have implicated both FIFA's new president and its ethics lawyer.

A little more surprising, to those who hadn't been following his tax evasion case, is that the world's best and least shady player, Lionel Messi, was also caught up in the scandal. It's the latest controversy in a sport not so much rocked by financial scandals as it has been defined by them.

There's no question that when it comes to winning titles, the United States women's national soccer team is more successful than their male counterparts: three World Cup trophies, four Olympic gold medals, and one more CONCACAF Gold Cup title than the dudes. (The men's team did win a thing called the Marlboro Cup back in '89, so they've got that at least.)

So it's no surprise that members of the USWNT feel like they should get paid like members of the USMNT, or at least not only one tenth of what members of the USMNT are getting paid. To that end, five USWNT players (with the support of the whole team) filed a federal wage discrimination complaint against American soccer's governing body.

It's been a bad month for the NFL and its concussion problem. Earlier in the month, the NFL's senior vice president for health and safety admitted that there was "certainly" a link between playing football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Then last week The New York Times exposed the NFL's already flawed concussion research as being even worse than previously believed.

Now, a new lawsuit (filed by an old plaintiff) is citing this new evidence as the basis for new litigation.

Kevin Turner played eight seasons in the NFL with the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles. Turner was also the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against the NFL over the league's handling of concussions. "It's about helping people who had their brains affected in a very drastic way, and to make their lives so much more livable," he told The New York Times in 2014, "not just them but their families, and to supplement their health care."

Turner passed away last Thursday, at the age of 46.