O.J., Oscar and Tiger: One-time heroes who fell from grace
Oscar Pistorius joins the ranks of disgraced athletic competitors
South African Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to six years in prison on Wednesday for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, whom he shot four times through a bathroom door, allegedly believing she was an intruder. Pistorius was previously acquitted of murder and convicted of manslaughter in 2014. He served one year in prison, but his conviction was upgraded to murder last year after the prosecution appealed. Prosecutors believe that he killed Steenkamp intentionally after the two argued. Pistorius joins a long list of athletes who have fallen from grace. Here are nine others.
After a sensational court case, former NFL football star O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Simpson, and her boyfriend, Ron Goldman, in 1994. The trial overshadowed his success as a football player, which included rushing a record 2,000 yards in a single season and being named the NFL Player of the Year in 1972, 1973 and 1975. While narrowly avoiding a conviction for murder, he is now serving nine to 33 years in Nevada state prison on kidnapping, armed robbery and other charges. The conviction for those charges came on the 13th anniversary of his acquittal of his ex-wife's murder.
Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson won the Olympic 100-metre final in a world record 9.79 seconds in September 1988 at Seoul Olympic Stadium, but lost his gold medal and was later banned for two years after testing positive for the steroid stanozolo. Johnson ran again at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, but tested positive a year later for testosterone and subsequently incurred a lifetime ban.
NFL quarterback Michael Vick spent nearly two years in prison for his involvement in a dog-fighting ring called "Bad Newz Kennels" and was suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell indefinitely in 2007. Back in 2004, Vick had signed a 10-year, $130-million US deal with the Atlanta Falcons, which made him the NFL's highest-paid player at the time. The team sued to recover money paid to Vick, who later went bankrupt. Vick made a successful return to the NFL, however, with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009-13 and subsequently signed with the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Rumours swirled when four-time Masters champ Tiger Woods mysteriously crashed his SUV into a tree outside of his home in Florida following a domestic dispute in November 2009. The golfer admitted to several marital infidelities shortly after. The confession and public apology he made weren't enough for some of his sponsors, as several dropped him after the announcement. Woods never quite regained his dominance of the game. He hasn't won a major since 2008, and has recently had three back procedures, which have caused him to put his golf career on pause.
Lance Armstrong beat cancer and won a record seven Tour de France titles, but eventually confessed to cheating to Oprah Winfrey after a 2012 report by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. He was banned from cycling and stripped of his seven tour titles. The downfall of Armstrong also meant the end of an economic bonanza as he had endorsements that earned tens of millions.
Multiple SEC, NCAA and Texas A&M record holder Johnny Manziel has made headlines recently for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy and will be suspended for the first four games of next season. Released by the Cleveland Browns, the troubled free-agent quarterback, whom his father, Paul, called a "druggie," might also face more trouble over a domestic violence incident and may receive further disciplinary action if he signs with a team.
In 2014, after years of denying using banned substances, New York Yankee and three-time American League MVP Alex Rodriguez admitted to the Drug Enforcement Agency that he took performance-enhancing drugs. As a result, he was suspended for a full season, and upon returning, he apologized to the team. The Yankees reportedly told Rodriguez that they accepted the apology, but he had a lot to make up to many people. The designated hitter later told ESPN that he intends to retire after the 2017 season at the end of his contract.
While former baseball star Pete Rose remains the career hits leader and is a 17-time all-star, he got a lifetime ban in 1989 after an investigation found that Rose placed bets on the Cincinnati Reds when managing and playing for the team between 1985 and 1987. Rose applied to be reinstated to the sport, but his application was rejected as the commissioner felt the game's integrity would be compromised if he was allowed back in. Rose denied betting on baseball until he published his autobiography in 2004.
Figure skater Tonya Harding was banned for life from the sport after she pleaded guilty to helping cover up a plot involving her ex-husband and his friends to break rival skater Nancy Kerrigan's leg. Harding won the 1994 U.S. figure skating title after Kerrigan was attacked by an assailant who clubbed her above the knee. That wasn't the only scandal she faced. She also starred in a sex tape, and in 2000 pleaded not guilty to throwing a hubcap at her boyfriend and punching him in the face.
With files from The Associated Press and CBC News