Drug addiction, alcoholism: Wasim Akram and other famous athletes who battled addiction – News

We take a look at some of the iconic athletes whose careers have been affected by dark lives

By Leslie Wilson Jr.

Published: Tue, Nov 1, 2022, 9:13 AM

Last update: Tue, Nov 1, 2022, 9:36 AM

Former Pakistani cricketer great Wasim Akram has sent shockwaves through the sports world with the revelation that a cocaine addiction has almost taken over his brain.

The story of his battle with drug addiction which he was forced to give up after the untimely death of his wife Huma is told in his autobiography Sultan: A Memoir’, excerpts from which were published by The Times, London.

One of the world’s most feared left-arm fast bowlers, Akram took 414 Test wickets and 502 ODI wickets during an outstanding career, before retiring from international cricket after the 2003 World Cup.

“I liked to indulge; I liked to party,” he described his post-cricket life as a wild, globe-trotting expert commentator.

Akram, now 56 and a sought-after expert gambling analyst, is not the first athlete to fall victim to drug addiction.

Here we take a look at some of the iconic athletes whose careers have been affected by dark lives.

Jennifer Capriati

Photo: AFP

Photo: AFP

When Jennifer Capriati made history to become the lowest-seeded seed to win the 2001 Australian Open, where she beat Martina Hingis in straight sets, tennis experts predicted a stellar career for the star. American with two-handed flash backhand.

Although she won two more Grand Slams, an Olympic gold medal at the 1992 Summer Games and was inducted into the International Hall of Fame, Capriati’s glittering career was hit hard by cases of drug use, shoplifting and scandalous affairs.

The star was arrested for shoplifting and was arrested by Florida police and charged with possession of cannabis.

Capriati confessed that she had to struggle with her fame which came at a very young age and that she even considered taking her own life because she was too fat, to escape it all.

Instead, she turned to drugs, dropped all of her tournaments, and headed to rehab.

Capriati was charged with battery and stalking her former boyfriend on Valentine’s Day.

She currently lives a quiet, secluded life spending time at her home in Miami.

Michael Phelps

Photo: AFP

Photo: AFP

Record-breaking Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps may not have had a problem rewriting his sport’s history books, but had far bigger issues with his weakness for recreational drugs like marijuana.

A 6-foot-4 giant with a wingspan of over six feet, Phelps is considered the most successful Olympian of all time with a cache of 29 medals, including a record 23 golds, Phelps had only no equal in the pool.

However, Phelps once shocked the world when he allowed himself to be photographed by a British newspaper smoking marijuana at a student party at the University of South Carolina. He was lucky to get off with a warning and was not prosecuted for his poor publicity taste.

He apologized after the incident saying he wouldn’t make the mistake again.

Phelps did not come out unscathed as he was banned for three months by the United States Swimming Federation, which also cost him a lucrative sponsorship deal with American food giant Kellogg Co.

Diego Maradona

Photo: AFP

Photo: AFP

The Argentinian footballing genius is the original enfant terrible for substance and alcohol abuse.

A wizard with the ball on the pitch, Maradona was also an outrageous “party animal” who partied like there was no tomorrow. He was known to have tried and tested all forms of narcotics and was invariably the last person to leave the party.

Even though he overdosed in 2000 and suffered a heart attack in 2004, which forced bypass surgery in 2005, that didn’t stop him from continuing to live dangerously and on the edge.

Over the years, his addiction to prescription drugs combined with his addiction to recreational drugs and alcohol would lead to his tragic death at the age of 60.

However, despite all his misdeeds, Maradona will likely be remembered for the epic goal he scored against England in the 1986 World Cup and his controversial ‘Hand of God’ goal in the same game.

George Best

Boasting a fine poster-like appearance, dazzling Northern Ireland winger George Best was always destined to be a star.

He boasted a larger than life celebrity appeal that matched his flamboyant style of play which combined speed, exceptional skill and the ability to strike with both feet.

Growing up with a working-class mother, herself a talented hockey player, Best was influenced by her habits, sadly even the curse of alcohol abuse.

By the time she died prematurely at the age of 54, due to a heart attack brought on by alcoholism, her son had already succumbed to a similar addiction to spirits.

Best himself would die an alcoholic aged 59, leaving behind a rich legacy evidenced by an 11-year stint at Manchester United where he scored 137 goals, winning the European Cup as well as the Ballon d’Or. ‘Gold.


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