This week the Dutch National Olympic Committee will present  a focus list of 10 sports that could help the Netherlands in realizing its ambition to structurally end in the top 10 of the Olympics medal table. This is one of the requirements for hosting the Olympic Games. Our analysis shows  the 10 sports which will make the focus list and which hence may receive extra funding are likely to be the following ones: skating, aquatics, athletics, rowing, judo, field hockey, cycling, sailing, equestrian and gymnastics.

On 30 august the Dutch National Olympic Committee (NOC NSF) will present its “study top 10”. This study should give insight in the present top sports climate in The Netherlands and its future ambitions. In order to fulfill its objective to host the Olympics in 2028, one of the ambitions of the NOC NSF is to structurally end in the medals top 10 of Olympic Games. The top 10 should be seen in this perspective; it consists of those sports that have a decent chance to realize this ambition. Clearly these sports should qualify for extra financial support.

The Netherlands has only once been in the Olympics medal top 10 table. Let’s first briefly examine how The Netherlands has performed during  the Olympics in the last 7 editions and simultaneously how many gold medals were required to end up in the medal top 10. 


Olympics Dutch gold Medal Ranking Medals required
  medals   to be in top 10
2008 7 12 7
2004 9 17 9
2000 11 8 11
1996 7 15 7
1992 7 20 7
1988 6 22 6
1984 6 13 6


From this table the following conclusions can be drawn:

  1. The Netherlands has only once been able to end in the top 10; this was during the tremendously successful  Sydney 2000 Games.
  2. The Netherlands usually is ending in the top 20 in the Olympics medal table
  3. In order to realize a top 10 position around 7 gold medals are required. Only during the 2000 and 2004 editions this number was exceeded
  4. In order to structurally end up in the medals top 10 The Netherlands needs more gold medals.

Choices have to be made. Not surprisingly more money is required to stand a chance to realize this ambition. Besides a better sports infrastructure, better facilitation and better support of top athletes, it is clear that choices have to be made as far as sports are concerned. One would invest in those sports where chances of gold medals are the best.  The 80/20 rule also applies to sports and it is no different from your average company, where just a few clients (20%) make up 80% of the turnover. As we will see, it ain’t that different in sports; a few sports are accounting for the vast majority of medals. It doesn’t require rocket science to determine which sports these are. We have used 3 criteria to pinpoint where The Netherlands would have a decent chance to gain gold medals.

  1. How many gold medals per sports discipline are at stake during the Olympics? Clearly this makes a difference; are we going to invest in athletics, where 47 medals are to be gained or say in triathlon with only 2 gold medals to be divided.
  2. Do we have sufficient talent available in those sports to support our ambitions? In order to measure this, we have looked at the size (in terms of members)  of each sports federation that could be active on the games
  3. In which sports do we have a historic tradition as far as medals are concerned? In several Olympic sports, we have barely won any medals  at all. For example The Netherlands does not have a tradition in wrestling, where it has never gained any medals (also reflected in the number of members at the wrestling union). It should therefore be questionable whether such tradition can be reversed quickly, particularly given the available resources of such sports.

 In the table below we have listed the different Olympic sports in accordance with the criteria mentioned above.

  Sports Gold medals Sports Members Sports Medals NL
1 Athletics 47 Football 1152674 Aquatics 55
2 Aquatics 46 Tennis 693024 Cycling 40
3 Cycling 18 Gymnastics 273811 Rowing 26
4 Gymnastics 18 Field hockey 210498 Equestrian 22
5 Wrestling 18 Equestrian 203007 Judo 20
6 Canoeing 16 Aquatics 144259 Sailing 18
7 Shooting 15 Athletics 127639 Athletics 15
8 Weightlifting 15 Volleyball 127047 Field hockey 14
9 Judo 14 Sailing 101040 Canoeing 8
10 Rowing 14 Badminton 61321 Boxing 6
11 Boxing 13 Judo 57686 Fencing 5
12 Fencing 10 Handball 57192 Weightlifting 3
13 Sailing 10 Basketball 42134 Football 3
14 Taekwondo 8 Shooting 41882 Shooting 2
15 Equestrian 6 Table tennis 34288 Tennis 2
16 Badminton 5 Cycling 28456 Volleyball 2
17 Tennis 5 Rowing 28092 Archery 2
18 Volleyball 4 Triathlon 14019 Gymnastics 1
19 Archery 4 Archery 10071 Badminton 1
20 Table tennis 4 Taekwondo 8574 Wrestling 0
21 Basketball 2 Canoeing 6938 Taekwondo 0
22 Field hockey 2 Wrestling 4096 Table tennis 0
23 Football 2 Fencing 2539 Basketball 0
24 Handball 2 Boxing 1497 Handball 0
25 Modern Pentathlon 2 Modern Pentathlon 415 Modern Pentathlon 0
26 Triathlon 2 Weightlifting – –  Triathlon 0


5 out of 26 different sports account for 50% of the medals. There are 302 gold medals to be handed out at the next Olympics in London split over 26 different sports and even more disciplines. Important to realize is that 5 of these sports account for approximately 50% of all the medals, coincidentally wrestling being one of these sports. The 10 sports with the least gold medals to be gained account for only 10% of all the medals. Hence, this explains why focusing is important. Looking at the total members per union, it is clear where the Netherlands has the biggest resources as far as talent, trainers and tradition is concerned and not surprisingly this is also reflected in the column detailing the total number of medals that historically have been gained in a certain sport.

The top 10 focus list. Taking these criteria as a yardstick it is not difficult to arrive at a focus list (or a study top 10 as NOC NSF is defining it). Apart from skating (we have not analyzed the Winter Olympics for obvious reasons –  the vast majority of Dutch gold medals are gained in skating -), we would arrive at the following sports: athletics, aquatics, cycling, judo, rowing, sailing, equestrian and field hockey.  It means there is one sports left. As football and tennis are played on a full-time professional level and not primarily dependent on NOC NSF, we would not expect these sports to be on the list. Given both the number of medals at stake and the number of people participating in the sports, we believe gymnastics would be a prime candidate to end the list.

After having witnessed a couple of mediocre Formula One seasons, in which the sports lost popularity, the 2010 season promises to be a blast. Coming Sunday the new season will start in Bahrain and there is plenty to look forward to. Here are 10 interesting reasons why the 2010 season should become a thriller:

  • The return of Michael Schumacher. You either hate the guy or you love him, but both fans and enemies probably agree on one thing: the return of Schumacher is a blessing for Formula One as the sport was lacking sufficient charismatic personalities. Schumacher is clearly a winner, being often seen as the bad guy given his controversial behavior; but don’t we have enough dull and programmed drivers in F1? Schumacher should bring the umpf factor back into the sports. It remains to be seen how he will do after 3 years having been away from racing, particularly given the changes since he left. But it usually doesn’t take long for true champions to get back to basics.
  • New rules allow for more spectacular racing. A couple of new rules are being introduced, which may lead to more spectacular racing. The main ones are the following: firstly, refueling is no longer allowed. As a result bigger tanks are needed and more emphasis will be put on fuel consumption and tyre wear. As a result pit-stops will last less than 3 seconds, whilst drivers who can adjust the most easily to changing conditions are likely to have an advantage. Strategy (early pit-stop may pay but will it be at the expense of tyre wear-out) might become even more important and no doubt there will be mistakes in the beginning of the season. Those teams that will come quickest to grips with the new rules and strategies, will be winners. Secondly there will be a new points system. Rather than the old 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 points system for the first 8 finishers the 2010 (25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1) points system will reward the top 10 finishers. This clearly is putting more emphasis on victory and hence the fight for the number one spot could be fierce. Finally, the top 10 qualifiers have to start on the tyres on which they set their qualifying time, aiding of course the bunch following the top 10.
  • Tight competition at the front end of the grid. At the final testing day at Catalunya, it became clear that the differences between the top teams are minimal. In contrast to last year, when Brawn and Co. only showed their tail to the competition, it now seems incredibly close. Last year’s front runners Brawn (now Mercedes) and Red Bull are now joined by the ones who you would expect; it’s good to see Ferrari and McLaren back at the front again, it just gives that extra bite! But that’s not all! The second bunch within the field consists of Williams, Force India, Renault, Sauber and Toro Rosso and testing proved they are not far behind!
  • Which driver will cope best with the new rules? The 2010 season will have one of the best line-ups of star drivers in grand prix history. It will be tremendously exciting to see them fight for the championship. Note that there are 4 former world champions in the field: Schumacher, Hamilton, Alonso and Button. Adding Sebastian Vettel and you probably end up with the big favorites for the 2010 title. Alonso has great racing qualities and is probably best in nursing his car in all conditions, which given the rule changes will be very important. Having said so, his Ferrari is said to be high on fuel consumption, which could run against him. No doubt Michael Schumacher could win races again in 2010. Although he is super determined, it remains to be seen whether he will be able to grab the title after having been absent for 3 years. Lewis Hamilton is the big favorite in my opinion. The guy has matured, has shown he is a great and gutsy racing driver and in essence should be better than Jenson Button. And then there is the dark horse Sebastian Vettel. Could he do it? 2010 might still be too early for him, whilst he also might be pre-occupied with Michael Schumacher in the fight for best German racing driver. And what do the bookies say? The latest odds: Alonso 11/4, Hamilton 7/2, Vettel 4/1, Schumacher 4/1 and Button 10/1.
  • Personality clashes and in-team fights. Feuds and personality clashes in F1 have been of all times. 2010 will be no different and there is plenty to look forward to. The in-team fights will be fascinating. No doubt Schumacher will blow away Nico Rosberg. Schumacher will do anything (and we know what that means) to avoid losing against his teammate with the risk of people saying he is over the hill. That will not happen! The fight between Ferrari’s Alonso and Massa will be interesting too; Alonso is desperate to get back into a championship-contending car and is potentially one of the best drivers in the field. However, he is new to Ferrari, whereas Massa is not. Moreover Massa will be eager to prove he has fully recovered from last year’s accident and can get back to old form. Undoubtedly the most interesting team relationship to watch will be that of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. Button has taken up the gauntlet by moving to McLaren. However, trying to prove he is the best British driver won’t be easy There is no doubt about his pace and coolness, but will he be able to deal with adapting to constantly changing conditions? It will be a clash between two driving styles; Hamilton’s bold and aggressive driving vs Button’s conservative style of racing. Let’s see who will win and who will be able to maintain his personality best. And those are just the in-team fights! There is plenty more of touchy issues. The young Vettel fighting old dog Schumacher for German hegonomy, Schumacher fighting his old friends at Ferrari, Schumacher continuing his feud vs McLaren etc etc. One thing is for sure: it’s gonna be fun to watch!
  • Large number of new teams. In contrast to what was expected (we had a financial crisis to deal with and 3 manufacturers withdrew from F1), the grid is counting 4 more cars rather than diminishing by 6. This means we will start this weekend with 24 drivers. It could even have been 26, were it not that US F1 did fail to be ready in time. So which are the new names? First of all Lotus, which seems to have a very reliable car, that has been clocking mile after mile during testing. No doubt racing fans will be happy to see the traditional yellow and green colours back on the roster. Moreover, Lotus has a good line-up with Trulli and Kovalainen. Richard Branson’s Virgin is a second new kid on the block, but later more on this one. Finally Hispania (Campos) is the last name that has made it. It remains to be seen, whether they will still be there during the last race as the team is said to have financial problems. Moreover the team will arrive in Bahrain without any pre-season testing. Hence its race pace remains a mystery. My bet is the tough gets tougher.
  • And then there is Richard Branson with his “Virgins” No doubt the golden guy with the Midas touch will bring some extra glamour to F1, leveraging his Virgin brand now to car racing. If there is one guy who can do it, it is probably him. Branson has the smallest budget (only GBP40m) of the new teams, but no doubt he will get his fair bit of exposure by doing things differently, you have to give the guy the credits for it. His first bold move has been to design a car by Computational Fluid Dynamics, meaning the car is entirely designed by computer simulation rather than using a scale model in wind tunnels. Of course the car has to prove itself, but if it works, it will bring down costs tremendously. No doubt we will hear a lot more from Branson and his “Virgins” (as he calls his cars). He has done the trick before with his other businesses but F1 will be the ultimate test.
  • Many rookies likely to provide for some interesting action. During the last few seasons we have not seen as many rookies as this year, clearly the result of several new teams on the grid. In total the start of the 2010 season will count 5 rookies: Nico Hulkenberg, Vitaly Perov, Lucas di Grassi, Bruno Senna, Karun Chandhok. But to be fair, Jaime Alguersuari and Kamui Kobayashi have barely any F1 experience either. Clearly these drivers can all drive a F1 car but the lack of experience in driving such a car for an entire race and being in competition with some very seasoned veterans might provide for some interesting viewing.
  • Will Korea be ready in time? The F1 calendar is counting 19 Grand Prix and includes one new venue; Yeongam in Korea. The problem is that the track has not been finished yet and although there is still half a year left, it remains to be seen whether the Koreans will be able to win this race against the clock. We are positive they will.
  • Politics, economics and rules….. And then there are always the arguments in the all-important periphery of the F1. No doubt there will be disagreements between teams on the interpretation of the rules, no doubt Berny will pull a few tricks out of his sleeve and no doubt the FOTA (F1 Team Association) and FIA (International Automobile Federation) will have their ongoing disputes. It will be interesting to see how the balance of power will change within the FOTA now that 3 large car manufacturers have disappeared and are replaced by several smaller teams. Finally, economics will play an important role again. Will F1 be able to find its way up again, will it be able to put constraints on budgets, will all teams survive this year? In any case, if races are not interesting, there is plenty of going on outside the racing track!

svenkramerWhereas at the beginning of the Winter Games Sven Kramer of The Netherlands was widely seen to become the athlete winning the most gold medals, he did not manage to indeed become the king of the Games, mainly due to an unintended mistake of his coach. Local marketing buffs claim this mistake could turn out to be extremely expensive, costing him millions of dollars. I doubt whether this will be true; although his claim to international fame has not materialised to the extent he would have hoped, this should be more than compensated by his increased popularity at home, where he found a whole new bunch of supporters admiring him for the way he dealt with this issue.

Sven Kramer’s disqualification at Olympics costing millions of dollars?? It wasn’t meant to be. Dutch speedskater and national hero Sven Kramer did not manage to grab the three gold medals, he was predestined to win. Not because he was not the best…. The skater was well on his way to win his second gold medal when his coach made a big mistake by directing him into the wrong lane. As a result Sven was disqualified. Things turned worse in the team-pursuit, this time as a result of poor communication. Hence the world’s best speedskater did not become king of the Olympic Games. According to sports marketeers like Frank van de Wall Bake, this will have big implications as far as his income is concerned. As Kramer has not become Vancouver’s biggest star, the number of international endorsements (think cover on Sports Illustrated, international brands etc) will be significant less than anticipated, costing him millions of dollars. This is probably true from an international perspective, but these specialists fail to tell the entire story.

From star to icon: Sven Kramer’s unknown hidden values. Sven Kramer has always been known to the public as an extremely talented and ambitious athlete, a bit cocky and a humorous guy. The Dutch always embrace their skating stars and Sven Kramer has not been an exception. However, what the Dutch audience did not know was how Kramer would respond and behave in case of a setback or misfortune. Kramer’s enormous mature reaction after losing two gold medals has uncovered some hidden values that most people were not aware of: respect, dignity, responsibility and sportsmanship. Just after experiencing probably the biggest disappointment of his life, the guy was open to talk to the press, showing no rancour and behaving as a good loser. Moreover, a day later he was in good spirits with his coach and told the press that he and his coach had gone a long way and celebrated a lot of success. Clearly that could not be a reason for breaking-up. The way he dealt with this issue was one which only true big stars show. Sven lost two gold medals but gained an enormous amount of goodwill, well documented on television and on the internet. At once he gained thousands of additional admirers, probably elevating him from a star to an icon and role model.

Commercial exploitation of newly discovered values should compensate for the missed (international) income. These new values should undoubtedly make Sven Kramer more interesting for commercial purposes. Sven Kramer has shown the world he is extremely ambitious (like a sport star should be) but can also behave in a very responsible manner when taking an unexpected blow. He has shown he is authentic. No doubt commercial brands will use these values in their marketing campaigns, certainly in view of his increased and likely sustained popularity. Adding the new values and the popularity of skating in The Netherlands, this should lead to a longer and more sustained steady income flow going forward. I have no doubt that the discounted value of this stream of income will more than compensate for the loss of international endorsements. As speed skating is a very small sport globally, these endorsements will rapidly decline over time anyway.

Market value of Sven Kramer likely to increase further. Sven Kramer has lost two medals but gained tremendous appreciation. The guy is still young and has broken already all the records you can imagine. I would not be surprised when he will come back with a vengeance in Sochi. Rather than from “hero to zero”, I would like to say “claim to fame”. No matter what happens, Sven Kramer will end up in the row of the true big champions in skating like Ard Schenk, Johan Olav Koss and Eric Heiden. Soon Kramer and company will launch a new commercial brand named SvenK. Oakley, Giant and Viking are rumoured to have already closed deals with this brand. I am sure they are to be followed by many more over the coming years.

federerWe have almost finished 2009 and have witnessed an eventful sporting year on and off the pitch. Who cannot remember the win of the Steelers against the Cardinals in the superbowl or the stunning race of Usain Bolt in which he broke the 100 metres world record by a mile, or Tiger’s great comeback after his injury (although he didn’t manage to win a major and did take a sidestep at the end of the year), or Roger Federer breaking Pete Sampras’ grand slam record. In spite of all of this 2010 should be a much more eventful sporting year given bonus events such as the Winter Olympics and the World Championships of Football. We briefly discuss the 10 biggest sports events to look forward to.

1. American Football (NFL). In the NFL the Colts should beat the Saints in what would probably be the dream final of the 2009-2010 season. Two teams with 2 great quarterbacks should deserve to battle it out in Miami, with Peyton Manning likely to be the big star. And if any of these two teams won’t make it to the Superbowl, look for the Chargers or Vikings as potential stand-ins.

2. Vancouver 2010, the Winter Olympics. Lots to look forward to. In hockey crazed Vancouver, team Canada should get away with the gold, beating the Swedes in the finals. That’s an easy one and chances for a surprise winner in this field are virtually zero. As far as the countries taking away the most gold medals, it should be a battle between Germany, the US and Canada and don’t be surprised if the Canucks, feeling strong on home soil, take it away. The biggest golddiggers? Speedskaters Sven Kramer and Shani Davis will probably battling it out, both of them going for 3 gold medals. Or could Ole Einar Bjorndalen (biathlon) do it one more time in his fourth Olympics? Although he still regularly wins, I doubt whether he will pull it off this time……In any case it will be fun and the great city of Vancouver will only add to the pleasure!

3. Golf. It could be Phil’s season but don’t count out the Tiger! Having put behind the illness of his wife, Phil Mickelson could be back with a vengeance and win a couple of majors. Much will depend on Tiger. If he will divorce from his wife, he could put all his attention back to golfing, if not the story might be different. It is still my guess Tiger will be back in time for the first major, the Masters in Augusta. Tiger’s fire to beat the record of Jack Nicklaus should still be burning. If having put behind his private matters, don’t be surprised when Tiger gets away with another major this year. And the dark horses? Look for the young guns Martin Kaymer and Rory Mcilroy.

4. Sailing, the Americas Cup. After a long and ridiculous legal battle off the water, the 33rd Americas Cup now looks set to take place in Valencia mid February. Sailing should take place on the water and not in the court room. With recent emphasis having been taken away from sailing, I doubt whether this has been doing any good to the sports and to the brand value of its main sponsors BMW and Oracle as well as the ones of Alinghi. It is to hope that clear rules will be set for the 34th Cup. In any case hopefully attention will turn back to sailing in mid February. That is to say if BMW Oracle’s latest claim of Alinghi’s sails not been made in Switzerland (the rules require that the boat and all equipment be built entirely in the country represented) will hold. If the claim will be awarded, we will see further delays. If not, sailing should go ahead and in that case I opt for Alinghi, which should have had more testing time on the water.

5. Tennis, Roger and Kim once more. Of the three Gillette triplets only Roger Federer still stands firm, Tiger Woods and to some extent Thierry Henry (after his hand ball in the all important France Ireland match) have fallen from grace. I cannot believe Roger will fall into the same kind of trap. On the contrary, he should continue gaining further support and winning several grandslams once again. I doubt Nadal will get back to his old performance level and if he does, how long his knees will hold. Del Potro is probably the guy to watch. For the women it should become more interesting again now that Kim is back. Clijsters veni vidi vici in the US Open should see further confirmation in 2010, which should be a welcome change after the reign of the Williams sisters.

6. Motor racing; Formula 1, Schumi is back! A blessing for Formula 1, that’s how one can summarize the come-back of 7x world champion Michael Schumacher. Over the last few years the popularity of Formula 1 has clearly come down, as fans no longer felt sufficiently connected to the sports, due to the combination of a lack of charismatic drivers, several scandals (crashgate) and the economic downturn. With Schumacher being back and several new racing teams on the grid, Formula 1 should bounce back. It should be an interesting season. Will McLaren and Ferrari be able to return to the front and head-up to Mercedes? In any case, it should be fun to see Schumacher fight with the new generation drivers such as Hamilton and Alonso. My pick for the 2010 season: Hamilton!

7. Cycling Tour de France; Contador for third time in a row. Who can beat Alberto Contador in 2010? Despite his great comeback in 2009, I do not expect Armstrong can pull it off. Despite gathering a very strong team around him this year with many of the old teammates of Contador, the years start to count, whereas Contador looks stronger every year. On the other hand never say never; I wouldn’t be surprised when Armstrong would have a few more tricks up his sleeve! Elsewhere Schleck, Valverde, Evans and Wiggins should fall short again, whilst it probably is still a bit early for Dutch condor Robert Gesink. So few dark horses in a Tour de France which hopefully will lack any doping scandals.

8. World Championships Football 2010. In summer the spotlights of the world will be on South Africa, the first African country to host one of the biggest sporting events in the world, the World Championships Football What to expect? Italy should be unable to retain the worldcup after the recent mediocre performances of the national team as well as that of the club-teams. Spain, the reigning European champions is the country to watch with some fantastic individual players. Spain’s track record in the Worldcup has been dramatic, but winning the European championships should have put an end to that spell. Nevertheless, it won’t come easy and particularly England could spoil the party, they should be seen as Spain’s main threat, certainly with the current confidence of the lads, it could finally be their time again. The dark horses? Brazil, Holland and as always Germany. Topscorer? Look for David Villa

9. Swimming, back to basics again! No major championships this year, but what will make the sports interesting is the absence of high tech swimsuits. Technique will become more important again at the expense of pure muscle power. So it should be! It probably means there will be new names to watch! And of course some names will remain the same; Michael Phelps will continue to be a class on his own. So swimming will be swimming again with one exception; the number of new world records should be limited……

10. Basketball, will it be the Lakers again? Who dares to bet against Bryant and company? Not many, in most polls the Lakers are leading by a mile. Nevertheless, the Cavaleers proved during Christmas that the Lakers are far from unbeatable. With King James assisted by a determined Shaq doing his last few tricks, don’t be surprised when the Cavs pull it off!

tiger.alex2010 is nearing the end and hence lists of names are popping-up everywhere summarizing the greatest moments, sportsmen, sportswomen etc. Clearly we are not staying behind and add our own list. As 2010 has seen many confessions of big (former) stars, we briefly stand still to look at the 10 biggest confessions in sports in 2010.

When analyzing the confessions one can recognize broadly three categories; sex related confessions, drugs related confessions and confessions related to malpractices in the sport. Clearly all three have either a direct or indirect effect on the performance of an athlete, a club or a sport. However, there is simultaneously also a huge difference between the 3. Sexually related escapades have nothing to do with breaking the rules of a sport. What someone is doing in his private life is his/her choice. However, being role models to society, moral judgement is likely severe and hence there is a clear indirect impact on performance. As far as honesty is concerned, drugs related fouls are much worse, as they are directly impacting the performance of an athlete. Hence there is no longer a level playing field, on the contrary often one can speak of unfair competition. In spite of this we have listed the confessions according to the (of course arbitrary) impact they have on either society or the sports.

Biggest confessions of 2009:

1.Tiger Woods: Tiger confessed he has been unfaithful to his wife having had several affairs with other women. Clearly Tiger is not breaking any golf-related rules, but the noise it has created and the impact Tiger has on the sport of golf and sports in general, make him the clear number one of the list.

2.Gareth Thomas: Gareth Thomas, a British sports legend and international rugby star, announced he is gay. In the male chauvinistic rugby world this is a brave and huge step forward. Sports should have nothing to do with sexuality, yet there are still some bastions left like soccer and rugby. It is to hope that Thomas’ confessions will lead to a breakthrough although we have our doubts whether this will be the case.

3. Nelson Piquet: better known under the name crashgate, this has been one of the major offences in sports history. Nelson Piquet was asked by team leaders Briatore and Symonds, to deliberately crash his formula 1 car in order to help the team. With this “strategy”, security for Nelson himself, the other drivers and the spectators, was severely endangered. Moreover, the credibility of Formula One was severely dented. In the mean time Briatore and Symonds have been banned from the sports, whilst it is doubtful whether Piquet will ever return to Formula One.

4. Marcel Schuon: Schuon is the first soccer player who has come forward in the match-rigging scandal now coursing through European soccer to talk publicly about a deal to fix a game. Since his confession, police have raided addresses across Europe, smashing what they believe is a 200-strong band bribing players, referees and coaches in at least nine countries to influence matches that they would then bet huge sums on. Although bets did not take place on matches in the major leagues, it does put a dent into European soccer.

5. Johan Museeuw: in the beginning of 2009 the great cyclist Johan Museeuw confessed he used doping at the end of his career. Like so many others he used the performance enhancing EPO. This once again was a blow to cycling, which frantically tries to get clean. Slowly the sport manages to get a better grip on doping, but each year there are still those that are discrediting the sport and are willing to risk suspension. Asterloza and Di Luca were just 2 of the more well-known cyclists, who were caught this year. Johan Museeuw’s confession should not only resemble himself but also all those others who used performance enhancing drugs.

6. Andre Agassi: Agassi confessed he tested positive for the highly addictive drug, crystal methamphetamine, and then duped the Association of Tennis Professionals into believing he had taken it by accident. Although the drug is said to be a recreational one and not performance enhancing, it was forbidden. Agassi lied about it and is bailing himself out of it by writing a book. Nevertheless, he still is connected to the sports of tennis, which sadly doesn’t help the image of tennis, ironically a sport he once hated.

7. Rick Pitino: the famous Louisville basketball coach confessed he had sex and paid for an abortion for the woman accused of trying to extort him for USD 10mln. Being a catholic, Pitino’s reputation got a severe dent. In spite of an integrity clause (which includes dishonesty and moral depravity as grounds for firing) in his contract Louisville retained his services.

8. Alex Rodriguez: days after Sports Illustrated reported he tested positive for steroids in 2003, A-Rod, ex toyboy of Madonna, confessed that he used banned substance while he played for Texas Rangers between 2001 – 2003. As widely known, he was not the only one during that era, who used performance enhancing drugs. Nevertheless it was a sad moment for baseball that one of America’s favourite role-models took part in it. It’s good to see Major League Basseball seems to finally taking this problem seriously.

9. Yuri van Gelder: one of the world’s top gymnasts, “lord of the rings” Yuri van Gelder confessed he had regularly used cocaine for recreational purposes. Following his confession, the gymnast got suspended and was fired by his employer, the Dutch army, which had a zero tolerance policy. Van Gelder is in rehab and hopes to return to gymnastics.

10. Christoph Daum: Christoph Daum, coach of the Turkisch football club Fenerbace confirmed 4 of his players took part in sex marathons in a hotel in Istanbul. Whether the 4 players can stay with Fenerbace is yet unknown. Clearly one can say it is none of our business what sport stars are doing in their private life. Fact of the matter remains that stars are always in the spotlight and are representing their club. It is the price one pays for being a celebrity and role-model. In the end such publicity can affect the relationships in the locker room and hence the club and its fans.

Surely there were plenty more confessions. Come to think of it, Michael Phelps and his waterpipe! We deliberately did not put him in the list. Phelps was suspended from competition for three months by USA swimming but this was not for violating anti-doping rules as it was outside competition. It was merely to send out a strong message to Michael for disappointing so many. As Phelps did not violate any anti-doping rules we decided to keep him out. Arbitrary of course, but then again the entire list is……….