QPR star Anton Ferdinand has escaped jail by blaming his mum for a speeding offence - and in doing so inspired us to round up the wackiest excuses in sport.
‘I could have got a taxi or got on a train’
Ferdinand avoided a jail sentence for driving while banned – by blaming his mum. The defender was arrested by police after he was caught speeding in a 30mph zone in his Porsche.
The 28-year-old was already serving a ban for a previous offence, but pleaded ignorance, claiming that his mum failed to tell him about his punishment.
‘Bee sting... that makes you a sore loser’
David Haye's miserable performance in the ring against Wladimir Klitschko left the world of boxing disappointed - but the British boxer's excuse that his broken little toe had stopped him landing punches turned that disappointment into anger and ridicule.
"I broke my toe about three weeks ago. I didn't let anyone know that," Haye said after the fight. "I've been giving it local anaesthetics in the gym... that's why I stopped sparring. My Hayemaker wasn't there, I couldn't push off my right foot to land that shot. It was really frustrating." Klitschko was less than impressed, dismissing the injury as a ‘bee sting’.
‘It was the French kiss that was the cause’
In March 2009, France's Richard Gasquet tested positive for cocaine at the Miami Masters. Gasquet pleaded his innocence, maintaining that the drug must have got into his system via a waitress, whom he had spent the previous night kissing. The explanation was initially greeted with derision, but Gasquet took the case to an independent tribunal, which heard he "kissed her at least seven times, each kiss lasting about five to 10 seconds".
The tennis star also argued successfully that - unknown to him - his companion was a regular drug user, and subsequent forensic evidence sealed the deal. The two-year ban was reduced to two months, and Gasquet returned to competition.
‘The streaker lost me the match’
The talented-but-tortured snooker star Ronnie O'Sullivan was going along nicely at 8-4 in the final of the 1997 Masters against Steve Davis when a streaker interrupted the match. The Rocket didn't win another frame, and Davis won a 10-8 victory that O'Sullivan blamed squarely on the knock to his concentration.
‘Frogs croaking ruined us’
Ukraine's football team blamed their 4-0 defeat at the hands of Spain at the 2006 World Cup not on an inability to defend, but on an army of frogs who apparently croaked all night just outside the windows of the players' rooms at their hotel. The noise apparently got so bad that the players even went outside to try and deal with their tormentors.
"Because of the frogs' croaking we hardly got a wink of sleep," said Valdislav Vashchuk. "We all agreed we would take some sticks and go and hunt them."
‘A tight jockstrap and opponent farting caused defeat’
Zambian tennis player Lighton Ndefwayl was so horrified when he lost to arch-rival Musumba Bwayla in a local tournament that he let rip with an astonishing array of excuses in his post-match interview.
"Bwayla is a stupid man and a hopeless player. He has a huge nose and is cross-eyed. Girls hate him. He beat me because my jockstrap was too tight and because when he serves he farts, and that made me lose my concentration, for which I am famous throughout Zambia."
‘Needed a screwdriver to rescue the cat’
In the summer of 2010, England cricketer Graeme Swann was picked up by the police at 3am, and failed a breathalyser test. Amazingly, Swann claimed that he was driving over the limit as he was on a late night mission of mercy to buy screwdrivers from a 24hr supermarket so that he could rescue his pet kitten, Max, who was trapped under the floorboards.
Swann was cleared on a technicality over police procedure.
‘Prosecution notice arrived too late in the post’
Former England cricket captain Andrew Flintoff successfully defended an alleged motoring offence after claiming that his prosecution notice had arrived too late. Flintoff, 30 at the time, was caught on camera allegedly speeding in a 50mph zone, but he managed to argue that because the letter of prosecution arrived late, the case should be discharged.
After conceding that the Crown had not followed correct procedures, the prosecution at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court told the Lancashire all-rounder that it would offer no evidence.
‘It was her birthday, the lady deserved a treat’
US sprinter Dennis Mitchell tested positive in 1998 for an excessive level of testosterone. He blamed the sky-high reading on his activities the previous night, when he said he drunk five bottles of beer and had sex with his wife four times.
His defence memorably included the line: "It was her birthday, the lady deserved a treat."
Amazingly, the American authorities bought Mitchell's explanation, but the IAAF were less indulgent. He was banned for two years. Mitchell later testified against his former coach Trevor Graham in the infamous BALCO case.
‘Positive test due to pigeon pie’
Cycling has had more than its share of doping controversies, but excuses do not come more outlandish than Dutchman Van der Poel's in 1983 after he who tested positive for strychnine, which acts as a stimulant when used in small doses. He blamed it on a pigeon pie served for Sunday lunch.
Little did he know, Van der Poel explained, that the birds were his father-in-law's racing pigeons which had been doped with strychnine. Van der Poel came back, won several one-day classics and two Tour de France stages, and eventually retired in 2000.
‘The speed gun was focused on pedestrians and joggers’
British golfer Colin Montgomerie successfully appealed last June against a six-month driving ban and had a speeding ban overturned because the operator of the speed gun also trained it on pedestrians and joggers, against the rules for operating the equipment.
Montgomerie received three penalty points, was fined £850 and ordered to pay £4,000 costs after being convicted of speeding, and was given a six-month ban because the penalty took the points on his licence up to 12. But the conviction was revoked. The once European Ryder Cup captain's legal bill – thought to be in the region of £30,000 – was passed on to the taxpayer.
‘Wife’s severe trauma caused speeding’
Former England footballer Joe Cole avoided an immediate ban for speeding at 105mph after a court heard that his wife was ''severely traumatised'' after being dragged from her car by ''eight thugs on motorbikes''. Carly Zucker was apparently left unable to get back behind the wheel after she was the victim of a carjacking outside her Chelsea home.
Mrs Zucker and her five-month-old baby would not be able to use public transport if Cole was banned because of their "profile", Cole’s lawyer said.
‘Extreme cause of diarrhoea responsible’
Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was found not guilty of illegally driving on a motorway hard shoulder after magistrates heard he had been suffering from severe diarrhoea and was trying to get to a lavatory.
Sir Alex, then 57, told Bury magistrates that he had been experiencing stomach cramps the night before being stopped by police in his BMW and was continually visiting the lavatory. On the day of the incident he went to see Mike Stone, the Manchester United club doctor who gave him some Imodium tablets before he left Old Trafford.
‘The city would experience hardship if I were punished’
Former Stoke City boss Tony Pulis escaped a driving ban – despite having 15 points on his licence – after he was clocked driving his BMW at 96mph in a 60mph stretch on the M42 after his side had been thrashed 5-0 by Bolton back in 2011.
But Pulis has escaped a ban after his lawyer argued it would have caused the manager, Stoke City and the people of Stoke-on-Trent exceptional hardship. And Pulis warned he could not hire a chauffeur because his confidential phone conversations could be leaked and potentially scupper major transfer deals.
Pulis told the court that he sometimes works from 7am to midnight, lives in Bournemouth, drives 62,000-miles-a-year and watches up to three football matches every week.
‘Grey shirts caused the embarrassment’
Ferguson knew there was only one reason why his Manchester United side went 3-0 down inside 45 minutes against Southampton back in April 1996 - and it wasn't lacklustre defending. Instead, the United boss blamed his side's grey shirts.
"The manager just stormed in and said: 'Get that kit off, you're getting changed'," Lee Sharpe explained after the match. "Those were the first words he said at half-time. I don't think he liked the shirt anyway - our results had been poor whenever we wore it, and we certainly never played in it again."
United went on to lose the match 3-1, and never wore the grey shirts again.