1. Lance Armstrong
After years of angrily denying doping accusations (even under oath), 7-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, 41, admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs when he rode for the U.S. Postal Service Pro-Cycling Team, during an exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey. The fallout? Well, before he fessed up on camera, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency found “overwhelming” evidence that Armstrong spearheaded “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program.” He was stripped of his titles and forbidden to compete. Now, Armstrong is under pressure to name other athlete accomplices, and pay back part of his $30 million sponsorship paycheck from the federal government. Not to mention, the reputation of his charity is basically shot to hell. Maybe he should trade his yellow bracelets for silver handcuffs.
2. Tiger Woods
On his way to becoming the greatest golfer of all time, 2009 saw a series of events that included a car accident, more than a dozen mistresses, divorce and therapy derail his career and personal life. Two years later Tiger is still trying to recapture his golf greatness and another Masters title.
3. 1918 Chicago Black Sox
In response to notoriously cheap team owner, Charles Comiskey, who leveraged loopholes in contracts and MLB laws to prevent playing his star players, eight members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox were banned from baseball for life for taking money from underworld figures to intentionally lose games (including the 1919 World Series). The scandal, which was also immortalized by the film Eight Men Out, remains one of baseball’s darkest and enduring moments.
4. SMU death penalty
To date this remains the most severe penalty handed down to any athletic program. Southern Methodist University’s entire 1987 schedule was cancelled due to massive violations of NCAA rules and regulations including slush funds and illegal payments to athletes for over a decade. Following the death penalty, the SMU Mustangs had only one winning season over the next 20 years.
5. OJ Simpson
It’s not every day that the NBA finals are overshadowed by a Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL star on the run from double murder charges. While acquitted during the most publicized trial of all time, years later OJ now sits in prison convicted of robbery.