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Top 10 Falls from Grace in Sports

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Kelly MacDonald Athletic feats meet serious personal failing. In this video, WatchMojo.com, counts down our picks for the top 10 greatest falls from grace in the sports world. For this list, we looked for athletes or sports personalities who were at the center of the biggest scandals in recent sports history. Some are cheaters, others are schemers and some are downright violent. In each case, their athletic achievements are overshadowed by their less-than-sportsmanlike behavior and they went from hero to zero in the public eye real fast. Special thanks to our user Kris A for submitting the idea through our Suggestions Tool at WatchMojo.comSuggest
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Transcript
Script written by Kelly MacDonald

Top 10 Falls from Grace in Sports


Athletic feats meet serious personal failing. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 greatest falls from grace in the sports world.

For this list, we looked for athletes or sports personalities who were at the center of the biggest scandals in recent sports history. Some are cheaters, others are schemers and some are downright violent. In each case, their athletic achievements are overshadowed by their less-than-sportsmanlike behavior and they went from hero to zero in the public eye real fast.

#10: Roger Clemens

Although he’s one of baseball’s greatest pitchers, the controversies surrounding Clemens make him equally great for gossip. A notorious diva, he’s been accused of using anabolic steroids, lying to a grand jury about his doping, and of having an extramarital affair with an underage country singer. Though most of this remains conjecture, and he’s in good company with Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire when it comes to the steroid allegations, it seems that Clemens’ ability to dominate the pitcher’s mound is equal only to his ability to dominate baseball’s rumor-mill.

#9: Michael Vick

You’re paid millions of dollars to play football. What should you do with your fortune? If you’re Michael Vick, you’ll operate an illegal dog-fighting ring. What will happen to you? You’ll be suspended from the NFL and serve some time in jail. Then you’ll make your way back to the pros, will win Comeback Player of the Year for 2010 and will eventually sign with the New York Jets for $5-million. Because apparently, in the NFL, having a great arm makes up for torturing helpless animals.

#8: Tonya Harding

She’s the bad girl of figure skating! Harding gained international notoriety when she became embroiled in one of the ice world’s biggest scandals. Just before the 1994 Olympics, Harding’s rival, Nancy Kerrigan, was clubbed in the leg, temporarily forcing her out of competition. Harding’s ex-husband and her bodyguard were implicated, and Harding herself was later revealed to be involved. Kicked out of competitive figure skating for life, Tonya Harding went onto illustrious careers in semi-pro boxing, reality television and homemade pornography – Kerrigan, on the other hand, won silver in ’94.

#7: Tiger Woods

Famously unflappable on the green, Tiger Woods’ public persona was equally pristine. That is, until 2009. Turns out that the clean-cut family man was a prolific philanderer with a penchant for kinky, pill-popping sex. The scandal cost him sponsorships, his marriage, and for a while his golf game, but with the likes of Nike sticking by him, Woods’ fall from grace was only temporary. Back winning PGA tournaments, this reformed bad-boy is as popular than ever.

#6: Marion Jones

Winning five medals, including three golds at the Sydney Olympics, Marion Jones’ athletic feats seemed almost superhuman, because, well, they were! However, after years of denials, in 2007, the celebrated Olympian admitted to using steroids throughout her career as part of the BALCO scandal, and was promptly stripped of her medals and banned from competition. Jones also served six months in jail for lying to federal agents and check fraud. The first female track and field star to make millions, Jones has since faced serious financial and personal struggles.

#5: Ben Johnson

Canadian speed demon Ben Johnson won gold for the 100-meter dash at the Seoul Olympics in record time. However, within days of his victory, Johnson tested positive for steroids. And sure, we now know pretty much everyone was doping in Seoul, but at the time, Johnson was one of the few who got caught. He lost his gold, was barred from competition, and eventually made several comebacks, all of which ended in more drug accusations. Once considered the world’s fastest man, Johnson’s rapid rise to stardom became a swift plummet into permanent infamy.

#4: Lance Armstrong

Live strong, cheat stronger. Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France seven times in a row. He beat cancer and built a charity. Throughout his career Armstrong brazenly denied allegations of steroid use. Then, in 2013, under serious duress, Armstrong finally admitted to doping. He was stripped of his awards, removed from the charity he founded, and lost millions of dollars in sponsorships. Faced with a barrage of legal troubles, it seems that for Lance Armstrong drugs did pay… until they didn’t!

#3: Pete Rose

Winner of three World Series, a 17-time All-Star and baseball’s all-time hits leader, a bet on Pete Rose’s team would probably be a safe wager – unless of course you’re actually Pete Rose. Caught placing bets on the teams he played for and coached, this high-stakes gambler was banned from the game that made him rich in 1989. Despite being one of the best players in MLB history, Pete Rose is ineligible for the Hall of Fame; and his legacy forever tarnished.

#2: Oscar Pistorius Called “the fastest man on no legs,” Oscar Pistorius was the first double-leg amputee to compete against athletes who were not physically disabled at the 2012 Summer Olympics. A man who had been inspirational to millions,Pistorius shocked the world when he shot and killed his girlfriend in 2013; a tragedy that Pistorius maintains was accidental. Regardless of what the courts say, because of the horrific nature of his crime and his public meltdowns, in the court of public opinion Oscar Pistorius is a fallen hero.

Before we unveil our pick for number one, here are a few honorable – or in this case dishonorable –mentions:
- Aaron Hernandez
- Gilbert Arenas
- Lenny Dykstra
- Chris Benoit
- Joe Paterno
- Jerry Sandusky

#1: O.J. Simpson

Accused of two murders, guilty of kidnapping and armed robbery, and oh yeah – he was once a star NFL running back! The Juice’s demise was a full-blown public spectacle – the car chase, the bizarre court proceedings – it was all televised. Found not guilty of the 1994 murder of his ex-wife and her friend, his innocence remains questionable; in fact he was later found liable for their wrongful deaths in a civil trial. This, plus on-going criminal activities, has completely erased Simpson’s athletic legacy, and that’s why he’s our number one.

Do you agree with our list? What sports scandal have we overlooked? For more salacious and sporty top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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