One of Tapie's businesses, a chain of health product stores known as La Vie Claire, sponsored one of the strongest cycling teams of all time. It was founded after the 1983 season when multiple Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault broke from the Renault-Elf team that also featured another Tour winner in Laurent Fignon after a falling-out with team manager, Cyril Guimard. Following Hinault to the new team was Greg LeMond, who would go on to win three Tours himself. Both Hinault and LeMond would win Tours with the La Vie Claire team.
From 1986 to 1994, he was president of the Olympique de Marseille soccer club, which became Champion of France and won the Champions League. In May 1992, he was forced to resign of his function as Minister of City, by the Prime minister Pierre Bérégovoy, who thus established the misnamed "Balladur jurisprudence," according to which an indicted member of the government should resign .
In 1993, the same year that OM won the Champions League, he was accused of fixing the match between his club and minor club Valenciennes; the motivation seemed to be that, in this way, he could save his best players for important matches and not waste their energy. His club was stripped of its French league championship, though not of the Champions League title, and later suffered a forced relegation to the second division because of financial irregularities widely blamed on Tapie. In 1994, Tapie was put under criminal investigation for complicity of corruption and subornation of witnesses. After a high profile case against public prosecutor Éric de Montgolfier, he was sentenced in 1995 by the Court of Appeals of Douai to 2 years in prison, including 8 months non-suspended and 3 years of deprivation of his civic rights. He was incarcerated for about 6 months in 1997.
Bernard Tapie was also prosecuted for tax fraud.
On September 30, 2005, a French court ended a long legal battle between Tapie and the Crédit Lyonnais bank. Crédit Lyonnais had allegedly defrauded Tapie in 1993 and 1994 when it sold Adidas on his behalf to Robert Louis-Dreyfus, apparently by arranging a larger sale with Dreyfus without Tapie's knowledge. The court awarded 135 million euros to Tapie. This decision was partially overturned on October 9, 2006 by the Court of Cassation, the main court of last resort in France.
Also, in 1998, he collaborated in a song by French artist Doc Gynéco, "C'est beau la vie."
In the 2007 presidential election, he supported UMP candidate Nicolas Sarkozy, despite having been a minister in a Socialist government, and being a member of the PRG. According to Le Canard enchaîné, this support was won by Sarkozy because of tax issues which he would have promised to resolve following his election.
A documentary was recently made titled Who is Bernard Tapie? by American filmmaker Marina Zenovich.