Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Some major sports moments in 2015

Published:Saturday | December 26, 2015 | 12:00 AM
In this June 6, 2015 file photo Barcelona's Lionel Messi kisses the trophy after his team defeated Joventus 3-1 in the Champions League final at the Olympic stadium in Berlin.
In this Wednesday, August 5, 2015 file photo, FIFA President Sepp Blatter is photographed while banknotes thrown by British comedian Simon Brodkin hurtle through the air during a press conference following the extraordinary FIFA Executive Committee meeting at the headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.
In this Sunday, August 23, 2015 file photo, Jamaica's Usain Bolt (right) wins the gold medal in the men's 100m ahead of United States' Justin Gatlin (left) at the IAAF World Athletics Championships at the Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing.
In this July 12, 2015 file photo Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates winning the men's singles final against Roger Federer of Switzerland at the All-England Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon, London. Djokovic won the match 7-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-3.
In this April 11, 2015, file photo, Jordan Spieth chips from the gallery on the 18th hole during the third round of the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia. In a wire-to-wire win, the biggest moment for Spieth was on the 18th hole in the third round. In a risky move, he hit a flop shot that helped him save par and set the tone for the final round.
In this Saturday, June 6, 2015 file photo, Serena Williams, holds the French Open tennis trophy after beating Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic in three sets. Williams won the year's first three majors, and came within two match wins of completing the calendar year Grand Slam at the U.S. Open.
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LONDON (AP):

From Serena Williams' near Grand Slam in tennis to Japan's shock defeat of South Africa in the Rugby World Cup and Barcelona's dominance on the football pitch, there was much to admire in international sports this year.

But much of it was spent dwelling on scandal - from widespread allegations of bribery and corruption at FIFA to systemic doping and cover-up in athletics.

Football officialdom endured a shameful year.

Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president since 1998, and Michel Platini, European football's top official, were banned from all football-related activity for eight years for a FIFA payment of about $2 million to Platini in 2011. The payment was judged by FIFA's ethics commission to be a conflict of interest and disloyal to the world body. Both deny wrongdoing and will appeal the decision.

And in athletics, Russia's federation was suspended after it was accused of operating a state-sponsored doping program. The suspension could keep Russia out of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Athletics had its more inspiring moments, Usain Bolt in many of them. A lunge to the line saw him see off Justin Gatlin in the 100 metres at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing - the scene of perhaps his greatest achievements in the 2008 Olympics.

Golf got its own new superstar this year, too. Jordan Spieth won the first two majors, and just fell short in the other two.

It was also a big year for Australia and New Zealand. The neighbours contested the finals of both the cricket and rugby World Cups. Australia won the former to claim their fifth Cricket World Cup while New Zealand got revenge when they became the first team to successfully defend the Rugby World Cup.

Here are some notable moments in sports this year, as captured by photographers from The Associated Press.