Few people are idolized more by society than our sport’s stars. Whilst they may not all actively seek it – the reality is athletes are worshiped by millions of people.
With just one kick, one punch, one tackle, one freak-goal – an athlete can become an overnight sensation. But for some sports stars things can unravel just as quickly. Beyondthegame.tv looks at the Top 10 Fallen Sporting Idols.
10. Wayne Carey
Wayne Carey was one of the best AFL players of all time – many say THE best. The King was unstoppable and helped propel the Kangaroos to Premierships in 1996 and 1999.
But it all fell apart in March 2002 when it was revealed he had been having an affair with his teammate Anthony Stevens’ wife.
Carey resigned from the Kangaroos in 2002 – but returned to the game in 2003 for the Adelaide Crows which lead to some fairly heated moments with his former teammates.
9. Ben Cousins
The West Coast midfielder was an absolute gun on the field.
Cousins achieved it all as an AFL Player – he was a six-time All Australian, 2005 Brownlow Medalist, and helped his team win the 2006 Premiership.
It all unraveled in 2007 when Cousins was arrested for drug possession and sacked the next day. In November he was banned from playing senior football for twelve months.
After a long time away from the game, Cousins revived his career at Richmond in 2009 and 2010 – playing 32 games for the Tigers.
8. Ben Johnson
The Canadian Sprinting star ran one of the best races you will ever see in the 100 metre final of the Seoul Olympics in 1988.
His took out the Gold Medal with a world record time of 9.79 seconds. However only days later it was found that Johnson had been using the performance enhancing drug stanozolol which saw him stripped of his gold medal.
It has later been found that several of his opponents in the 1988 100 metre Final were also using banned substances.
7. Mike Tyson
‘Iron Mike’ was one of the most fearsome boxers to ever enter the ring. He was the youngest ever boxer to win the WBC, WBA, and IBF Heavyweight titles at just 20 years of age.
However in 1992 Tyson was jailed and his comeback in 1997 hit a brick wall when he decided to chew off his opponent Evander Holyfield’s ear.
Tyson declared bankruptcy in 2003.
But we think he did a pretty decent job singing ‘One Night In Bangkok’ in Hangover 2.
6. Tonya Harding
Wow – Tonya definitely took rivalries to the next level. The 1991 U.S. figure-skating champion became notorious after her ex-husband and bodyguard conspired in an attack on a rival skater in 1994.
Harding subsequently pleaded guilty to conspiring to hinder the prosecution. Rival Nancy Kerrigan won the silver medal at the 1994 Olympics. Harding later went into boxing. We’re not sure why Tonya wasn’t put in the ring with Mike Tyson – might have been interesting.
5. George Best
The Northern Irelend winger is regarded by many as one of the best footbalers to have played the game. Pele even stated “George Best was the greatest player in the world”.
Best was the ultimate footballing ‘rockstar’. As Best dominated on the pitch and led Manchester United to titles- he also fought his own battle with alcoholism.
He once famously said;
“In 1969 I gave up women and alcohol – it was the worst 20 minutes of my life.”
In 1984 Best received a three-month prison sentence for drink-driving and assaulting a police officer. There were rumours that he even represented the Prison Football team whilst inside.
Best continued to drink later in life and passed away at the age of just 59.
4. Marion Jones
Once upon a time Marion Jones was the fastest woman alive. She won a legion of fans in Australia when she absolutely dominated the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. She took home a ridiculous five medals- including three Gold.
Jones was later stripped of all five medals when she admitted to steroid use.
Here is the infamous video of Jones denying her drug use.
In 2008 Jones was sentenced to six months jail for fraud and also lying to a grand jury about her use of performance enhancing drugs.
3. Lance Armstrong
Lance Armstrong was such a phenomenal story. The cyclist won his battle with cancer and inspired millions as he returned to cycling to win seven Tour De France Titles.
In 2012 it was found that Armstrong had been involved in Blood Doping throughout his career. He was consequently stripped of all seven of his Tour De France titles. The sport of cycling is still reeling as a result. He confessed all (sort of) to Oprah- who else? At least he didn’t jump on the couch like Tom Cruise.
2. Oscar Pistorius
Pistorius was one of the world’s biggest names in Athletics. The double-amputee was an inspiration to so many. It seemed there was nothing the ‘Bladerunner’ couldn’t do. Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison in 2014 after being found guilty of culpable homicide, or manslaughter. He shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp through a locked bathroom door but said he thought she was an intruder.
1. OJ Simpson
A phenomenal NFL player who still has a number of records to his name- OJ had it all. His career saw him inducted into the College Football Hall Of Fame in 1983 and the Pro-football Hall Of Fame in 1985.
After his retirement OJ had a successful career as both actor and broadcaster. OJ Simpson was acquitted in 1995 for the killings of his ex wife and her friend Ron Goldman.
In 2007 however Simpson was arrested in Las Vegas and charged with a number of felonies including armed robbery and kidnapping. He was found guilty in 2008 and given a 33-year sentence.