Salary cap breaches, illegal doping and cheating scandals, these are just some of the headlines we've witnessed across the decade. But what sports headlines have truly rocked Australia? We've listed what we believe to be the 10 biggest Australian sporting stories to take place between 2010 and 2019.
It was the sporting moment that caught everyone's attention. Fists flying and even chairs swinging, Australia's 'basketbrawl' with the Philippines national team was splashed across front pages and sports bulletins throughout the country and saw three Australians and 10 Filipino players suspended. A swinging elbow from Daniel Kickert into an opposition player's face kicked off the fight, one which led to Thon Maker flying through the air to kick a Philippines player. Australia was hit with a $135,000 fine over the extraordinary mass brawl, one which even received the 'Ozzy Man reviews' treatment.
9. Nick Kyrgios and his temper tantrums
One Nick Kyrgios headline wouldn't be enough with the notorious tennis bad boy producing several of the top scandalous headlines of the decade. Kyrgios hit the ATP circuit in 2013 and first gained headlines when he reached the 2014 Wimbledon quarterfinal after downing Rafael Nadal. However, controversial moments were to come. In 2019 alone he forfeited rankings points and prize money after a temper tantrum saw him throw a chair onto the court. He was then fined $113,000 for calling an umpire a 'tool' at a separate event. But perhaps his most scandalous moment was in 2015 when he was overheard telling his opponent Stan Wawrinka "[Thanasi] Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend", it garnered worldwide condemnation and saw him fined $10,000.
8. NRL off field scandals
In five years the NRL has seen 67 off field incidents mar the game. Unfortunately, a lot of the biggest scandals that rocked Australian sport involve domestic violence and violence against women. There has been a total of 12 accusations of violence against women in four years, in the 2018-19 off-season alone we saw five charges of domestic or sexual violence against women, with one of the most serious charges of sexual assault against Jack de Belin. Ben Barba's awaited return to the NRL was shut down in February after the Cowboys sacked him over an incident at a Townsville Casino on Australia Day.
7. Adam Goodes racial abuse & retirement
Adam Goodes being pushed out of the AFL is one of the greatest shames in Australian football. After calling out a young fan in the crowd for racist comments, Goodes' career was never the same. Swans matches spiraled into years of sustained booing from crowds all around the country and constant media scrutiny that saw Goodes eventually take time away from the sport. The issues that were brought into the spotlight sparked furious debate and created a nationwide discussion of societal issues in Australia that spread far beyond the MCG. The week in, week out booing coupled with a torrent of social media abuse saw the two-time Brownlow medalist walk away from the game. Some five years down the track, following the production of two documentaries, the AFL and all 18 clubs apologised for the hate and lack of understanding shown towards the Swans champion, and the way his subsequent exit from the game was handled.
A year after the Australian swimming team produced their worst Olympic performance in 20 years at the 2012 London Olympics, Eamon Sullivan, James Magnussen, Cameron McEvoy and their 4x100-metre relay teammates -- the 'Stilnox Six' -- admitted to taking the prescription sleeping drug during a 'bonding session' ahead of the Olympics. Following an independent review into the poor performance, the damning report found the swim team had a "toxic" environment that involved misuse of prescription drugs, breaching curfews, deceit and bullying. Fronting the media in February 2013, the Stilnox Six admitted that alongside the misuse of Stilnox some of them also played pranks on other team members such as knocking on doors and making prank phone calls. The details of the penalties handed to the six swimmers by Swimming Australia were not released to the public beyond Swimming Australia saying they were fined and given "deferred suspensions for breaches of their behavioural obligations".
5. Boats, cars and the Melbourne Storm salary cap breach
It was the toughest punishment for a salary cap breach in NRL history with the Melbourne Storm stripped of two premierships, competition points and three minor premierships after it was uncovered in 2010 the club paid $1.7 million to its players outside the cap over five years. Players, fans and administrators were shocked to learn the Storm essentially had "two sets of books" with players such as Billy Slater, Greg Inglis and Cameron Smith receiving under the table payments such as cars, boats and house renovations from third party clients -- however it was deemed the players were unaware these payments were outside the cap. At the time The Age labelled the news as "the biggest scandal in Australian sports history" while then NRL CEO David Gallop said "the elaborate lengths that they went to to hide the payments was quite extraordinary". The side was fined $500,000 and were forced to pay back the $1.1 million they'd won in prize money.
4. Bombers, Sharks and peptides
In a saga that spread across three years, and two sporting codes, the Essendon Football club doping scandal in 2013 rocked Australian sport. An investigation launched by Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) and World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) of the Bombers and Cronulla Sharks supplements programs -- led by controversial sports scientist Stephen Dank -- initially saw Essendon fined $2 million by the AFL, while the side was barred from the 2013 finals series and coach James Hird suspended. The saga continued in the 2014/15 offseason with players of the side initially found not guilty of using peptides during the 2012 season. The verdict would soon be overturned by the Court of Arbitration in Sport in 2016 with 34 players suspended for two years. During the investigation a former player claimed the players were asked to sign waivers and were injected with supplements that were "pushing the boundaries". At the same time the Sharks faced a similar investigation with 10 players eventually accepting a back dated six-month ban, while coach Shane Flanigan was suspended for 12 months and the side received a $1 million fine. In November 2016 Dank received a life-long ban from the AFL.
In a moment that transcended sport, Phillip Hughes' death rocked more than just Australia, with cricket playing nations around the world feeling the impact of his death. Struck on the neck while batting during a Sheffield Shield clash in Sydney in 2014, Hughes collapsed to the ground before he was transported to hospital where he spent two days in an induced coma. He later succumbed to his injuries. His death created headlines around the world, while the subsequent social media hashtag #PutOutYourBats saw people across the globe pay tribute to the young cricketer. International Tests and Sheffield Shield games were suspended or postponed with Australia's opening match of their India Test series delayed for the funeral. Huge crowds arrived in Macksville, Hughes' home town, to pay tribute, with the funeral broadcast live on radio and television and was also shown at the SCG, Adelaide Oval, WACA and Bellerive Oval, where mourners were invited to gather for a public viewing. An inquest into Hughes' death found no one was at fault, while emergency procedures were looked over and the rules around use of helmets were tightened. Each year on the anniversary of his death, the hashtag #63NotOut trends across the nation.
Despite being arguably the Wallabies best ever fullback, Israel Folau may end his career as well known for his controversial comments as his on field success. Folau found himself in hot water in 2018 when he first posted a homophobic comment on Instagram, before he was eventually dismissed from his position with Rugby Australia and the New South Wales Waratahs following a second controversial social media post in early 2019. However, it was Folau's decision to take RA and the Waratahs to court for wrongful dismissal that truly rocked Australian sport. In a feud that began in May, Folau launched legal proceedings against his former employers and by November was requesting $14 million in compensation, claiming he could have been a Wallabies captain. Folau continued to court controversy throughout 2019 with the code hopper recorded delivering several questionable sermons including one preaching same-sex marriage and abortion had caused the bushfires ravaging New South Wales in November. His feud with RA finally came to a close in early December with both parties apologising for their roles while reaching a confidential settlement.
In a decade that has seen doping scandals, salary cap breaches and brawls, the biggest headline to rock the country came in 2018 when three Australian Test cricketers, Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, were involved in a ball-tampering scandal that would later be dubbed 'Sandpapergate'. During a Test match against South Africa in Cape Town, television cameras caught Bancroft attempting to rough up one side of the ball with sandpaper. Despite the umpires taking no action on the field, Bancroft and Smith fronted the media that night with Bancroft admitting to attempting to alter the ball. Five days later Bancroft admitted he had used sandpaper while Smith revealed his involvement in the plan. Reaction across Australia was swift with then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stating it was a "shocking disappointment", while the Australian Sports Commission called for Smith to be stood down immediately. Despite the International Cricket Committee suspending Smith for just one match and handing Bancroft three demerit points and a fine of 75 percent of his match fee, Cricket Australia took their investigation further and charged Smith, Bancroft and Warner with bringing the game into disrepute, suspended the trio and sent them back to Australia. Warner was found to have developed the plan, with Bancroft to carry out the instructions while Smith admitted to knowing and failing to stop Bancroft. Smith and Warner would eventually serve out a yearlong suspension while Bancroft spent nine months on the sideline.