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Concussions, Doping & Bat Flipping: Latest Sports Scandals Encompass All Seasons

Kevork Djansezian / Stringer
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Tennis player Maria Sharapova addresses the media regarding a failed drug test at the Australian Open at The LA Hotel Downtown on March 7, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.

A major investigative piece from the New York Times says the NFL's studies on concussions from 1996 through 2001 were grossly flawed. The league has long relied on the data from those studies to back their claim that the verdict is still out on long-term health effects of concussions.

At the same time, it was just recently that for the first time an NFL executive publicly acknowledged the risks from head injuries in the sport. Excessive head injuries can cause Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy(CTE), a condition which has been found in many former football players. 

"90 of 94 former players whose brains were examined they found it, which is 96% I think. And they had 45 of 55 college players where they found it as well," says Shaun Ranft, managing editor of The Sports Post

"I hate when people use the, 'Oh, they know what they signed up for,' reasoning. And they do, they understand what's going on," he says. "But to act like it's not a big deal is also a pretty bad thing."

Meanwhile, another controversy over doping has reared its head, this time in the world of professional tennis. Russian tennis player, Maria Sharapova, failed a drug test at this year's Australian Open. Sharapova had been taking the newly banned drug Meldonium for a decade. Sharapova claims she was unaware the substance has been banned, but fans - and sponsors - aren't so sure they can trust her. 

"We're kind of numb to it now," says Ranft. "We just assume, 'Oh yeah, they'll be suspended. It wasn't smart.' They always deny it." 

And former player Rich "Goose" Gossage is crusading against another controversial practice, with fewer health implications: bat flipping. 

"I guess he's really against people celebrating things and having fun playing a game," says Ranft. Traditionally the move is seen as rude, and some think it violates an unwritten code of etiquette. After a player flips a bat, it's not uncommon for players on the other team to retaliate. 

"I feel like a few years ago I was sort of like, 'Yeah!' You know, teammates sticking up for one another. Now it's like, no. They're just mad that someone did something against them and they're going to throw a 95-mile-per-hour fastball at their body," says Ranft.

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