THE news last week Oscar Pistorius has been charged in the shooting death of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, sent shockwaves throughout the stunned world who only six months earlier had seen Pistorius prove he could compete against able-bodied Olympians. But the South African isn’t the first sporting superstar to experience a spectacular fall from grace, as Post Sport now explains with eight more tales.
THE ultimate sporting fraudster.
Armstrong was a national hero in the United States and a beacon to cancer sufferers after overcoming the disease – a battle that was turned into a best-selling book – to return to cycling and win seven Tours de France.
Rumours Armstrong had doped his way to glory were often put down to sour grapes from the French. But, as one cyclist confessed after another, so the net closed in and Armstrong was ultimately left with nowhere to turn but Oprah Winfrey and a televised confession.
He is now banned from any sanctioned sport and has even been dumped by his own charity Livestrong.
AS possibly the greatest golfer ever and one of the richest sportsmen of all time, things were going swimmingly for the boy born Eldrick Tont Woods as he racked up 14 Major titles.
Then Woods had a problem with a club – namely, the manager of a nightspot with whom one tabloid said he was having an affair.
Days later, Woods mysteriously wrecked his car outside his marital home and soon came a steady stream of other women revealing a Tiger dalliance.
After a frankly odd live television address admitting his infidelities, Woods took five months away from golf to save his marriage. It didn’t work – he and wife Elin Nordregen split and Woods hasn’t won a Major since.
Woods, though, continues to rebuild his image – certainly, a round of golf with Barack Obama last week wouldn’t have done any harm.
WHO’D have thought the world of top-level figure skating could be so murky?
Harding’s career was already on the wane when she watched rival American skater Nancy Kerrigan win the US Championships in 1993.
Still, that was no excuse for Kerrigan being attacked with a baseball bat by a man hired by Harding’s ex-husband ahead of the 1994 US Championships.
Harding admitted covering up the attack, but incredibly a legal challenge meant both she and Kerrigan could skate at the Olympics later that year. Kerrigan won silver, Harding finished eighth.
And after being banned for life shortly afterwards, she became an unwitting star of a celebrity sex tape, formed a short-lived music band and was briefly a boxer.
THE most infamous fall from grace in sporting history.
Orenthal James Simpson made his name as a running-back for the Buffalo Bills and later San Francisco 49ers, setting a host of yardage records and being named NFL Player of the Year in 1973.
He then branched out into films – starring in the Naked Gun trilogy – but shot to global fame when he faced trial for the murder of former wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ronald Goldman.
Some glove-related issues meant he was acquitted of the murders in 1995, but he then lost a civil trial and was forced to pay more than $33m.
Mind you, he’ll have a job doing that – OJ is currently serving a 33-year sentence for armed robbery and kidnap.
CRONJE was the outstanding captain of the South African cricket team in the 1990s, forging his reputation by helping the Proteas re-establish themselves having been readmitted to world cricket following the abolishment of Apartheid.
But matters began to unravel when he was implicated in a match-fixing and betting scandal in 2000, Cronje eventually admitting to his indiscretions and banned from cricket for life.
He was then killed in a plane crash two years later at the age of 32, with whispers continuing Cronje was murdered on the orders of a cricket betting syndicate.
IT remains arguably the greatest sporting anecdote ever.
The waiter delivering champagne to a hotel room was greeted with the sight of thousands of pounds of casino winnings and the current Miss World sprawled upon the bed, prompting the now legendary question: “Mr Best, where did it all go wrong?”
Ultimately, Best was his own worst enemy, his incredible talent making him the first celebrity footballer but leading to a lifestyle that fed the alcoholism that eventually claimed his life at the age of 59 in 2005.
George, though, had no regrets. “I spent 90% of my money on women, drink and fast cars,” he said. “The rest I wasted.”
JOHNSON had been a decent sprinter until a vast improvement saw him destroy the 100m world record in the 1987 World Championships.
Carl Lewis smelled a rat and wasn’t shy in saying so, and the stage was set for a bitter showdown in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
Johnson romped home in a 9.79 seconds, but three days later failed a drugs test and Lewis was proven right – the Canadian had been using steroids all along.
Johnson admitted his indiscretion at a subsequent judicial hearing and, after successive failed comeback attempts, he briefly trained Diego Maradona before being hired by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to coach his son.
‘IRON’ MIKE reinvigorated heavyweight boxing to become the undisputed champion of the world aged just 20.
Tyson destroyed everything in his path until a lack of focus led to him being controversially knocked out by James ‘Buster’ Douglas in 1990.
Then things really went off the rails, Tyson serving three years in prison after being convicted of rape in 1992.
Back in the ring, having lost to Evander Holyfield his hunger for revenge in the rematch extended to biting off part of Holyfield’s ear.
Tyson was later convicted of assaulting two motorists, failed a drugs test, was declared bankrupt despite earnings of $300million, retired and was incarcerated for drugs offences.
Having starred in his own one-man Broadway show last year, Tyson continues to tread the boards as an occasional actor.
Now also known as Malik Abdul Aziz.