Braun, the 2011 NL MVP, tested positive for a drug test in Dec. 2011 and then won an appeal on a technicality in February 2012. But Braun was slapped with a suspension for the rest of the 2013 season in July for violating the league’s substance abuse policy in the Biogensis PED scandal.
The perfect rise, then the perfect fall
Every young sports fan dreams of being a professional athlete — the fame, the fortune, the adoring fans. But when it comes to these athletes, all bets are off. Legal trouble, PR trouble, you name it. We present sports' most dramatic falls from grace.
Hernandez, shown here on June 26, 2013, during arraignment in Attleboro (Mass.) District Court, was a rising star tight end for the New England Patriots. He was a 2011 Pro Bowl selection and signed a five-year contract in the summer of 2012 worth $40 million. Now, however, he's been released by the Patriots and has been charged with murder in the shooting death of semipro football player Odin Lloyd, 27. If convicted, Hernandez could get life in prison without parole.
Only six months after proving to the world he could race on blades and compete with able-bodied Olympic athletes in London, South African sprinter and double-amputee Oscar Pistorius was charged in the shooting death of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius competed in the 2012 London Games and Paralympic Games, where he earned gold medals in the 400 meters and 4x400 relay. His case is currently scheduled to be heard Aug. 19.
Live … strong? Lance Armstrong was a hero, a fighter, an icon. He beat cancer and amazed us by winning Tour de France title after Tour de France title. Now, he’ll go down as one of the biggest fakes in all of sports. The seven-time Tour champ has been stripped of all of his Tour titles and admitted to doping in an emotional interview with Oprah Winfrey. He even lost his endorsement deal with Nike — and Nike doesn’t drop anyone (Tiger Woods still has his deal, and they even brought Michael Vick back on).
Penn State football coach Joe Paterno's 45 years coaching the football program came to an end when he was fired by Penn State's board of trustees in the wake of the full-scale media storm surrounding child sex-abuse allegations against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. He passed away on Jan. 22, 2012 from lung cancer, shortly after his firing.
Oh, Tonya. Once a championship-level figure skater in the early 1990s, she failed to medal at the 1992 Olympics and by 1993 her career was in decline. Nobody saw what came next: Rival Nancy Kerrigan was attacked by a man hired by Harding's ex-husband during a practice at the 1994 U.S. Championships. Harding and Kerrigan both made the Olympic team as bitter teammates. Harding admitted to covering up the attack, but her lawyers' legal threats saved her spot (she finished eighth amidst full-scale media glare). Later in 1994, she was banned for life by the U.S. Figure Skating Association, relegating her to a shamed career full of reality TV and low-level women's boxing events.
Ben Roethlisberger had the world in the palm of his hand. Already a two-time Super Bowl champ in his 20s as quarterback of one of the most respected franchises in sports, Big Ben was a hero to Pittsburgh Steelers fans. He almost threw it all away on several occasions (near-fatal motorcycle crash in 2006, sexual assault allegations in 2008), but shocked his team, fans and city when accused of raping a college student in March, 2010. Although he was never charged, the case details released by Georgia police were revolting, leading to a suspension to start the 2010 season under the NFL's personal conduct policy.
Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens
Look at their career numbers. These are the two easiest Hall of Fame cases a voter will ever have to consider. Right? Wrong. At this point, it's anyone's guess whether these two icons will ever be enshrined in Cooperstown. Both are caught up in a steroid whirlwind, neither will admit to knowingly using. Public opinion has turned against them, with Bonds being found guilty of obstruction of justice and Clemens, while was found not guilty of perjury, making false statements and obstructing Congress, is generally considered guilty by average fans.
The former outfielder, a New York Mets favorite with the nickname Nails, was released from prison on June 21, 2013. Dykstra was sentenced in December 2012 to six months in prison for hiding baseball gloves and other heirlooms from his playing days that were supposed to be part of his bankruptcy filing. He already had served seven months in custody awaiting sentencing. That prison term ran concurrently with a three-year sentence for pleading no contest to grand theft auto and providing a false financial statement.
Kobe Bryant has seen it all. From his ground-breaking choice in 1996 to skip college for the pros to his three NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers by age 23, Bryant was living a hoops dream. Then came the shocking nightmare: the squeaky clean Bryant accused of rape in the summer of 2003. In a surreal press conference, Kobe (with wife Vanessa at his side) confessed to adultery, but denied any rape charge (the 19-year-old accuser refused to testify the following year, closing the case). Kobe's A-name sponsors dropped him, his jersey was a joke, his name a punchline. Though it took the rest of the decade, Kobe recovered the fame, NBA glory ... and yes, those ad dollars.
Marion Jones won five medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics — three gold and two bronze. But you won't find a record of those accomplishments now. Jones, who also won an NCAA basketball title at North Carolina, has since forfeited all five Olympic medals after admitting she used performance-enhancing drugs. Jones would later serve six months in jail after pleading guilty to making false statements before a grand jury.
As one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, Favre revelled in his image as fun-loving, on-field warrior and off-field family man. But a scandal involving reported lewd texts sent to former New York Jets employee Jenn Sterger shed an unfavorable light on him. After he got called out for his behavior, fewer people than ever believed his "awshucks" attitude, including Wrangler jeans, which dropped him as a sponsor. And on the field, his lackluster final season in the NFL didn't help matters either.
Once known simply as the world's greatest golfer (possibly ever) and richest pro athlete, he had the perfect life, including his family with former Swedish model Elin Nordegren. Late in 2009, his world crashed — all innocuously starting from a tabloid story of Tiger having an extramarital affair with a nightclub manager. Then came Tiger's mysterious car wreck outside his home, sparking curiosity about his marriage. Then Tiger went silent, before stern media denials of being a home-wrecker. But finally, the floodgates opened when over a dozen women revealed crouching with Tiger. Despite taking 20 weeks away from golf, Tiger and his wife split up and his game has never fully recovered.
Pete Rose. The name itself emits a certain feel of purity and baseball joy, at least it did for his decades as baseball's all-time hits leader and manager of the Cincinnati Reds in the '80s. He was a guaranteed Hall of Famer ... until allegations of betting on baseball ruined his career and image. His was a sports scandal of the highest level, and Rose later even went to prison due to tax evasion. Despite nearly two decades of strong denials, Rose finally admitted (awkwardly, in his own biography for profit) his dugout sins ... but he has still never found a home in Cooperstown, and likely never will.
He is perhaps the most electric player to ever lace up football spikes. Wide receiver speed with running back moves and a cannon of an arm quarterbacks only dream of. He is the ultimate video game create-a-player and was one of the NFL's most popular players with the Atlanta Falcons. But you know how this story ended. Vick bankrolled a dogfighting ring, a crime which sent him to prison. Once the most marketable player in the NFL, Vick finally got a second chance in Philly. And in the fall of 2012, he became a dog owner again. Yikes!
He had reached the top of his sport, winning pro cycling's treasure in 2006, the Tour de France. Only two other American cyclists have ever won the event — Greg LeMond and Lance Armstrong. However, Landis was stripped of his title and banned from the sport for two years due to a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs. The disgraced rider was vehement in his defense, sparking his own multiple legal challenges until finally admitting in 2010 that he had cheated throughout his entire career. He also then accused Armstrong and numerous others of doping. Turns out he was right about Armstrong.
Jim Tressel, former head football coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, resigned in May 2011 after the revelation that his players had received inappropriate benefits. He was hired by the University of Akron in a non-sports administrative position in February 2012. Photo: Matthew Stockman/Half Length / Getty Images North America