We’re used to seeing nasty allegations and severe injuries in contact sports but figure skating? That’s exactly what happened 15 years ago, when American skater Tonya Harding was implicated in a vicious attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan. In the run-up to 1994’s U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit, Harding’s husband Jeff Gillooly and her ex-bodyguard Shawn Eckhardt hired Shane Stant to take a collapsible baton to Kerrigan’s knee during a practice session. She was forced to withdraw, and Harding subsequently won the event.
Then things really got messy. Harding admitted to her part in helping cover up the attack, and both the United States Figure Skating Association (USFSA) and the U.S. Olympic Committee started proceedings to remove her from that year’s Winter Olympics in Norway. Harding hit back, threatening legal action, and was allowed to compete. But as the saying goes, cheats never prosper, and Harding finished eighth, with Kerrigan, by then recovered from her injuries, winning the silver. After conducting its own investigation a few months later, the USFSA stripped Harding of her figure-skating title and banned her for life from participating in USFSA-run events as either a skater or coach.