Unless you have been hiding under a soundproof rock for the past two months you will be aware that Oscar Pistorius is currently on trial for murder in South Africa. ‘The Blade Runner’ is just the latest in a long line of sports stars who have crossed the divide between right and wrong. Pundit Arena’s John Ivory takes a look back at a few high-profile cases of sports stars who shocked the public with their behaviour away from the sporting arena.
The 27-year-old South African Paralympic multi-gold medalist is on trial for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14th 2013. This story sent shockwaves not alone throughout the sporting world but around the globe. Pistorius, known as ‘the blade runner’ due to his prosthetic legs, captured the hearts of many due to his incredible speed on the track, qualifying for the 400m semi-finals at the London 2012 Olympics. When news broke of the tragic shooting he was involved in, millions across the world wondered how it all went wrong for Oscar.
Tiger Woods is arguably the greatest golfer of all time, and without doubt he is the most famous golfing personality on the planet. He won Majors for fun in the early and mid-2000’s. However, in late 2009 Tiger’s squeaky-clean image was to be severely tarnished when the infidelity scandal to beat all was revealed in the press. The fallout was astronomical. The numbers of alleged partners kept building, his marriage to wife of five years Elin Nordegren ended, and multi-million dollar sponsorship deals evaporated. Revelations of Woods’ antics spread like wildfire, everybody knew what Tiger had been up to and it got a lot of people interested in golf for the wrong reasons.
Hailing from Texas, Armstrong was one of the most revered and most dominant sport stars in his discipline that there has ever been. Winning seven Tour de France titles in a row from 1999 to 2005 is no mean feat. In addition to that, the guy beat brain, lung and testicular cancer in the mid-nineties. People just couldn’t speak highly enough of Lance. But his legend unravelled in 2012 when he was caught for doping systematically throughout his highly successful career. Lance was stripped of his seven Tour titles and was suffering financial losses of up to $75 million dollars a day at one stage. The doping revelations shocked his worldwide fanbase and many will never forgive or forget.
O. J. Simpson
Orenthal James ‘’O. J.’’ Simpson was a highly successful American Football ‘Running Back’ from 1969 to 1979. He won the Heisman Trophy in 1968, the college player of the year award, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985. He went on to enjoy a successful broadcasting and acting career. O.J.’s personal life brutally crashed into the public sphere when, in 1994, he was charged with the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. Although he was subsequently acquitted of all charges, it was dubbed ‘the trial of the century’ and watched by over half the American population. But as if that wasn’t enough, Simpson is currently in prison (since 2008) for armed robbery and kidnapping.
Just like Armstrong, Johnson’s fall from glory was drug related, but in his case it was much faster. The Jamaican born sprinter represented Canada in the 100m sprint and was highly successful in the 1980’s, medalling at the Los Angeles games in 1984. Everything would fall apart in Seoul four years later, just two days after he won gold in the 100m’s while breaking the world record in the process. Johnson’s urine contained a banned substance, stanozolol, and he was subsequently stripped of his medal, and Olympic record. The race itself was a farce with all but one competitor in the race either using or distributing performance enhancing drugs.
John Ivory, Pundit Arena.
Featured Image By Chris Eason (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mister-e/7946372644/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.