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Sportsmen and sexual assault: the end of most careers

Just before the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, The Softcopy looks at what has happened to sportsmen who have committed crimes against women.

Bangalore, 24 November 2017: The life-imprisonment imposed on Brazilian footballer Robinho by an Italian court for rape is just the latest in a long list of verdicts against sportsmen committing crimes against women.

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women  falls on Saturday.

Sport in  its history has had  its fair share of shame, when it comes to violence against women.
The ones that come to mind in the current millennium is Mike Tyson, who in 1991, was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old girl and was  sentenced to six years in prison. However, after serving half his sentence, Tyson was released in 1995. Post that episode, Tyson was never the menacing boxer that he was.

He returned to the ring in 1999 and in the next six years, he endured mixed results on the ring, before calling it quits in 2005.
Oscar Pistorius, the eight-time Paralympic medal winner from South Africa, was revered around the world for his incredible achievements, until on the fateful Valentine’s Day in 2013, when he mistook his girlfriend for a burglar and shot her dead at his residence.
He was initially convicted for a six-year jail term, which was on Friday, doubled to 13 years and five months.
Indian sportsmen have also had their share of controversy.

A 19-year-old, former British women's hockey player had in 2016 charged former Indian Men's team captain Sardar Singh of having assaulted her and tortured her “mentally, physically and emotionally”.
He even allegedly forced her to undergo an abortion.
While he was not convicted for those charges, Sardar suffered on the hockey pitch, His captaincy was revoked a month before the Rio Olympics.
Last week, Sardar was dropped out of the Indian squad for the Hockey World League Finals in Bhubaneswar scheduled for next month.

His autobiography is scheduled to be released in 2018 and will possibly explain everything that transpired in the midfielder’s life during the last year.

The above two examples provide an important lesson, which is that when athletes get engulfed in offenses of such cases, they no longer have the same image in the fraternity as before.

It is also indicative of how their careers see a steady nosedive and it gets harder and harder to return to their heyday as athletes.

But the most critical impact it has is on the next generation.

Pistorius was seen as an inspiration for para-athletes around the world, but since the last four years, all the talk surrounding him revolved only around the crime he committed.

When Tyson was at his peak, countless boxers looked up to him and wished to emulate his success.

When Sardar Singh led India to Gold at the 2014 Asian Games, he was hailed as a national hero.

But post these episodes, they no longer got the same kind of fan following or reverence.

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