Eight moments that shook the sporting world in 2016

In a year riddled with surprises, sport hasn’t been exempt from both astonishment and disaster

Matt Murphy
Saturday 31 December 2016 17:42
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Eight moments that shook the sporting world in 2016

Sharapova handed lengthy ban from tennis

In February, former world number one Maria Sharapova came forward to admit she had failed a drugs test at the Australian Open.

The five-time grand slam champion had taken meldonium, a commonly-used heart disease drug, which had been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency on 1 January.

Sharapova was handed a two-year ban, which was then shortened to 15 months following an appeal. She is due to return to the sport in April 2017.

Leicester defy the odds to win first Premier League title

During possibly the most unpredictable season in football history, Leicester were crowned Premier League champions.

The Foxes had narrowly avoided relegation in the final few games of the previous season, and somehow carried their stunning form into the next.

At the start of the campaign Leicester, who had never before won the league title in their history, were among the favourites to be relegated. It was possible to get odds of 5000/1 on them winning the title.

England routed at Euro 2016

Another international tournament, another sour ending for the England football team as they crashed out of Euro 2016 at the feet of Iceland.

Having kept a 100 per cent record in the qualifying rounds, combined with promising youngsters and in-form strikers, expectations were cranked up a little higher than usual leading up to the group stages. In their first ever major competition, Iceland belittled their underdog expectations to humiliate England in the last 16 knockout stages.

Meanwhile, Wales made history as they marched through to the semi-finals for the first time, before losing to champions Portugal, who beat France in the final in extra time.

Russia banned from Paralympic Games

In July, a damning report from the World Anti-Doping Agency revealed a history of “state-sponsored” doping in Russian athletics.

Both the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) moved to make appropriate punishments, with the IPC banning Russian athletes from competing in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

The doping scandal, which has lead to a number of medals from previous international tournaments being withdrawn from Russian athletes, is still unfolding, with a Russian official just this week reportedly admitting to an “institutional conspiracy” of doping Olympic athletes.

Allardyce leaves England job after just one match

After 67 days in the hot seat - and just one game – Sam Allardyce left his job as England manager by mutual consent after an undercover sting.

The Daily Telegraph had filmed Allardyce in secret discussing “how to get around” FA rules that prohibited third-party ownership of players.

His departure in September made the 61-year-old the shortest-serving manager in the team's history. After stepping in as interim boss, Gareth Southgate then took over the role full-time – despite previously saying he didn't he was experienced enough for the role.

Cubs end century-long drought with World Series win

In November, the Chicago Cubs became Major League Baseball champions for the first time in 108 years.

The World Series ended in thrilling style, with an extra-inning win for the Cubs over the Cleveland Indians in game seven.

The Cubs had seen a 6-3 lead evaporate in the eighth inning but gained the final out in the 10th to secure an 8-7 victory.

Rosberg retires after winning F1 championship

Less than a week after being crowned Formula 1 champion for the first time, Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg retired from the sport with immediate effect.

In the 2016 season Rosberg had finally got the better of his teammate and rival Lewis Hamilton - who had won the two previous titles – with the intent to bow out on a high.

“I didn't know if I had the balls, and I took a bit of time. But I am done, end of story,” the driver said in a statement. “The next step is being a dad and husband and I am very much looking forward to that.”

Chapocoense players tragically killed in plane crash

In late November, a devastating plane crash in Colombia killed 71 people, including 22 footballers from Brazilian football team on board, Chapocoense.

The team were on their way to play in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final, for which the trophy was given to them out of respect – without the final being played.

News of the tragedy stunned the football world, and among an outpouring of tributes and support, four major clubs in Brazil offered to loan Chapecoense players for free in an effort to help them rebuild the club.

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