Cyclist Lance Armstrong Joins List of Top 5 Fallen Athletes

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By Vittorio Hernandez | January 21, 2013 10:11 AM EST

All eyes were on American cyclist Lance Armstrong as he came clean over the weekend in Oprah Winfrey's talk show. The TV programme, aired unedited the two-hour interview with the controversial athlete on Friday and Saturday.

Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France medals even before the Oprah interview, was not the first major athlete to have fallen low.

Some runners have physically stumbled on the tracks and some boxers have fallen asleep on the ring, but these four other athletes lost not only their medals or titles, but also commercial endorsements, family life, dignity and in some cases even personal freedom.

1.     Tiger Woods - He held the distinction of being the world's number one golfer and the highest-paid athlete in the world for several years, but his growl turned into a meow when his affair with several women were exposed, causing the break-up of his marriage to former Swedish model Elin Nordegren whom he married in 2004.

In 2009, The National Enquirer, a supermarket tabloid, published a story that Woods was having an affair with Rachel Uchitel, a nightclub manager in New York City. She initially denied the liaison, but Woods eventually admitted his relationship with Uchitel but also his extramarital affairs with other women.

Several companies that he endorsed, such as Accenture, AT&T, Gatorade and General Motors, dropped their sponsorship deals of Woods's golf tournaments. After attending a 45-day therapy programme, Woods resumed playing golf in April 2010.

Nordegren divorced him on August of that year, but latest report said that Woods is wooing her back. The National Enquirer reported that her proposed to marry her again on Christmas and Nordegren is considering the proposal but with a $350-million anti-cheating clauses on the pre-nuptial agreement.

2.     O.J. Simpson - Orenthal James was accused of murdering his former wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend but was acquitted in criminal court. But he was found liable for the two deaths in civil court and was fined $33 million.

Authorities' pursuit of Simpson in 1994 had all the markings of a murder drama, complete with car chases.

The case destroyed OJ's professional reputation, including being named in 1985 to the Pro Football Hall of Shame, and becoming a football broadcaster and actor after his retirement from professional football.

Other charges of felonies including armed robbery and kidnapping led to his conviction in 2008 and a 33-year prison term which he is serving at the Lovelock Correction Center in Nevada.

3.     Mike Tyson - This heavyweight boxer was convicted in 1992 of raping Desiree Washington, a Miss Black America pageant contestant, and slapped a 6-year prison term, but was released after three years.

He was the former undisputed heavyweight champion and was the youngest boxer to win the WBC, WBA and IBC titles at age 20. He made a comeback and won in 1996 the WBC and WBA titles after he beat Frank Bruno and Bruce Sheldon by knockout, but he continued to misbehave and was disqualified in his 1997 rematch with Evander Holyfield whose ear he bit.

Despite earning about $300 million in his career, Tyson filed for bankruptcy in 2003. He may have been down having admitted living from paycheck to paycheck, but definitely not out since Tyson, besides raising 350 racing pigeons, launched in 2012 the Mike Tyson Cares Foundation for kids from broken homes and will have a guest appearance in a 2013 episode of NBC legal drama, Law & Order.

4.     Tonya Harding - Skating's queen was reduced to a national punchline after she admitted to a plot to injure her rival, Nancy Kerrigan, in 1994. She was stripped of her national title and banned from competition for life. Harding was Kerrigan's toughest competitor.

Before the incident, Harding had a stellar skating career, being given a 6.0 score, the first ever given to a single female skater for technical merit after she landed her first triple axel at the U.S. Championships in 1991.

Her personal life and professional career went on a downspin after the incident, although she continues to attempt to recover through short stints in wrestling, TV hosting, acting and boxing.

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