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Shohei Ohtani's betting scandal with interpreters is far from the first in pro sports


Sports and gambling are back in the news in the wake of the shooting of Los Angeles Dodgers Ippei Mizuhara, interpreter and close friend of newly acquired star player Shohei Ohtani.

Mizuhara's sudden dismissal, 39, came amid reports from the Los Angeles Times and ESPN about his alleged relationship with an illegal bookmaker and debts of more than $1 million.

Mizuhara told ESPN Tuesday night that he gambled on international soccer, the NBA, NFL and college football, but said he never bets on baseball, which is prohibited among team personnel under MLB rules. He added that Ohtani paid off his gambling debts at his request.

Mizuhara changed his story a day later, saying in a statement from Ohtani's lawyers that the player was the victim of theft. In response, Mizuhara told ESPN that Ohtani had no knowledge of the gambling debt and did not transfer any money to the bookmakers.

Here's a look at other betting scams involving professional sports:

– In 1920, a Chicago grand jury indicted eight members of the Chicago White Sox on charges of fixing the 1919 World Series, which became known as the “Black Sox Scandal”. White Sox owner Charles Comiskey immediately fired eight players, including “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, and a year later newly appointed baseball commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis banned them permanently. Although a jury returned not guilty verdicts against the eight on all charges, their bans from baseball remain.

— In 1946, Hockey Hall of Famer Babe Pratt was suspended for gambling before being reinstated a few weeks later, with the NHL Board of Governors issuing a warning that any further gambling incidents would lead to a player's lifetime suspension.

— In 1948, Billy Taylor and Don Gallinger were banned for life from the NHL for betting on hockey games.

— In 1951, 35 active and former players were charged with at least 86 game-fixing cases between 1947 and 1951. Among those involved were four members of the Adolph Rupp-coached Kentucky Wildcats, accused of taking bribes from gamblers before a National Invitation Tournament game against Loyola during the 1948-49 season. An NCAA investigation found several violations, leading to Kentucky's 1952-53 season being voided.

— In 1980, two Italian soccer teams were exiled and five others were punished for their involvement in a match-fixing scandal dubbed the “Totonero.” Most notably, Paolo Rossi was banned for two years while playing for Perugia.

— In 1981, four others, including former Boston College basketball player Rick Kuhn and New York mobster Jimmy Burke, were convicted of conspiring to fix basketball games during the 1978-79 season.

— In 1985, Tulane suspended its basketball program in the wake of point-shaving and other allegations. The school resumed basketball for the 1989–90 season.

— In 1989, Pete Rose agreed to a lifetime ban after an investigation for MLB by lawyer John Dowd. Now 82, baseball's all-time hit leader with 4,256 remains ineligible for induction into Cooperstown and his numerous requests for reinstatement have been denied.

— In 1996, 13 Boston College football players were suspended for gambling, including two who bet in Syracuse's 45-17 loss against B.C. Coach Dan Henning, who notified school officials after hearing allegations of players placing bets with bookies, resigned. No evidence of point-shaving was found.

Dodgers fire Shohei Ohtani's interpreter amid 'massive plagiarism' allegations

— In 2007, current Vancouver Canucks coach Rick Tocchet was placed on two years' probation after pleading guilty to conspiracy and promoting gambling while serving as an assistant coach in Arizona. The NHL reinstated him the following year. Also, several players were involved in a gambling scheme initially titled “Operation Slapshot” involving a New Jersey-based ring; Wayne Gretzky's wife, Janet Jones, and Gretzky's former agent and then-Coyotes GM Michael Barnett.

— In 2008, NBA referee Tim Donaghy pleaded guilty to wire fraud and transmitting betting information to take thousands of dollars from gamblers for inside tips on games he worked. A federal judge sentenced him to 15 months in prison.

— In 2019, former Wales men's rugby team captain Rob Hawley was sent home on the eve of the Rugby World Cup, where he worked as an assistant coach. Hawley made 363 bets, including Wales' 2019 Six Nations Grand Slam decider against Ireland. He was suspended from rugby for 18 months.

— In 2021, England defender Kieran Trippier was banned for 10 weeks after tipping off insiders about his potential transfer who were then betting on the outcome.

— In the NFL, at least 15 players have been suspended by the league for gambling violations. The list dates to 1963, when two eventual Hall of Famers, Green Bay halfback Paul Hornong and Detroit defensive tackle Alex Karras, were suspended for the season for betting on league games. In 2022, the NFL suspended then-Atlanta receiver Calvin Ridley for the entire season for gambling on NFL games the year before while he was away from the Falcons dealing with mental health concerns.

— In May 2023, Brazil's lower house of Congress opened an investigation into a football match-fixing scandal. This is the third investigation into evidence of wrongdoing by football players who allegedly secured bookings and paid fines in exchange for bribes.

— Last summer, six-time major tournament-winning golfer Phil Mickelson was alleged to have wagered more than $1 billion over the past three decades, and wanted to bet $400,000 on the 2012 Ryder Cup while representing Team USA in a book. Written by famous gambler Billy Walters. A month later, Mickelson wrote in a lengthy social media post that he had stopped gambling, and admitted his gambling habit had crossed the line from sobriety to addiction. Mickelson has denied betting on the Ryder Cup.

— Soccer players Ivan Toni of Brentford, Sandro Tonali of Newcastle and Nicolo Fagioli of Juventus have all banned gambling this season. Fazioli was banned for seven months by the Italian Football Federation. Italian player Tonali was banned for 10 months for betting on teams he played for last year.

— In October, the NHL issued a 41-game suspension to Ottawa Senators forward Shane Pinto for sports gambling. The NHL would only say there was no evidence of Pinto betting on hockey. Pinto declined to divulge any details about rejoining the Senators in January.

Reporting by the Associated Press.


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