We’re used to seeing nasty allegations and severe injuries in contact sports but figure skating? That’s exactly what happened 16 years ago, when American skater 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 ex-bodyguard Shawn Eckardt 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 U.S. Figure Skating Association (USFSA) and U.S. Olympic Committee started proceedings to remove her from the Winter Olympics in Norway. Harding hit back, threatening legal action, and was allowed to compete. But as the saying goes, cheaters never prosper. Harding finished eighth, with Kerrigan by then recovered from her injuries taking 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.