The world's greatest living sportsman who turned out to be a serial cheat
According to the US Anti-Doping Agency, the cancer-surviving seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong is "a serial cheat who led the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen". A 200-page report was produced, drawn from the testimony of 26 witnesses (11 of them former team-mates), detailing how hotel rooms were transformed into blood-transfusion centres. Armstrong has chosen not to fight the damning report but has remained in denial. His lawyer, Tim Herman, dismissed it as "a one-sided hatchet job – a taxpayer-funded tabloid piece rehashing old, disproved, unreliable allegations based largely on axe-grinders, serial perjurers, coerced testimony, sweetheart deals and threat-induced stories." Still, the boil has now been Lanced and the record books amended.
The protester who jumped in the river at the Boat Race
As Trenton OIdfield started his six-month jail sentence in October, the wife of the Boat Race saboteur was asked how he might cope with life behind bars at Wormwood Scrubs. "He said it couldn't be worse than the boarding school he was sent to," Deepa Naik replied. It was in protest against the Government's public spending cuts and elitism in British society that Oldfield – a 36-year-old Australian – dived into the Thames in April and stopped the Oxford and Cambridge boats. "It was a symbolic gesture," he said, and was found guilty of causing a public nuisance.
The footballer who didn't give the ball back after an injury
Even in the world of top-level football, Luiz Adriano's actions were deemed beyond the pale. In a Champions' League match against Nordsjaelland last month, the Shakhtar Donetsk forward violated the etiquette of returning the ball to the side who had been in possession before a break in play for treatment to an injured player. While a team-mate attempted to give possession to the opposition, Adriano took control of the ball, rounded the keeper and shot it into an empty net. It was one of three goals scored by the Brazilian in a 5-2 victory. He received a one-match Uefa ban for "violating the principles of conduct".
The All Black hooker who threw a right hook
The unhappy hooker Andrew Hore is not the first All Black front-rower to be punished for throwing a punch in Cardiff. Back in 1972, after scoring the winning try against Wales, Keith Murdoch assaulted a security guard at the Angel Hotel and was sent home. The giant prop never reached New Zealand. He switched planes en route and disappeared into the Australian outback. Hore's punishment for the knockout blow he administered to Bradley Davies last month was a five-week rap on the knuckles.
The gymnast who scowled when she only won silver
It was not the first time an Olympian had looked less than chuffed to receive the runner-up prize. When Sebastian Coe was presented with his 800m silver medal after losing to Steve Ovett in Moscow in 1980, Clive James memorably observed: "It was as though he was receiving a turd". McKayla Maroney did not so much turn her nose up as wiggle it to one side and purse her lips as she stood on the podium after coming second in the gymnastics vault competition. The 16-year-old Californian had created a pose that went viral. When the US squad visited the White House last month, Barack Obama joined Maroney in pulling a "McKayla is not impressed" expression for the cameras.
The shot putter who won gold and then lost it after failing a drug test
In the highest-profile Olympic drug bust of all time, Ben Johnson went "from hero to zero in 9.79sec", as the headline in the Toronto Star famously put it. The burly Belarusian shot putter Nadzeya Ostapchuk hardly made the same impact at London 2012 but achieved an identical result in 21.36m. That was the distance that won the 31-year-old Olympic gold on 6 August, but tests subsequently showed she had been powered by the anabolic agent metenolone. New Zealander Valerie Adams was upgraded from runner-up but must face the cheating chucker at next year's World Championships, Ostapchuk having been handed only a one-year ban after the Belarus athletics federation accepted the claim that her food had been spiked by her coach, Alexander Yefimov.
Eight badminton players who played badly on purpose
It was a new low in shuttlecock diplomacy. When the top seeds in the Olympic women's doubles, Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli of China, repeatedly hit shots wide and served into the net in a group match against Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na of South Korea, boos rang round Wembley Arena. The South Koreans won, ensuring that Yu and Wang would avoid playing their No 2 seeded Chinese team-mates until the final. There were similar scenes in a later group match between another South Korean pair and Indonesia. All four pairs involved in the two sham contests were disqualified.
The rugby-playing Saint who turned sinner with a tweet
Brett Sharman's fall from Sainthood was a curious affair. On the day that Mo Farah was going for his second Olympic gold at London 2012, the Northampton Saints hooker tweeted: "Good luck Mohammed running for Paki... I mean Great Britain." Sharman apologised the next day and Northampton said they would take disciplinary action, but then cited a long-term knee injury for their decision to cancel his contract. The 25-year-old moved to Bath in September. He was born and raised in South Africa but has a British passport and has expressed a desire to play for England. Whether he becomes as popular and successful a British figure as the African-born Farah remains to be seen.
The cyclist who deliberately crashed at London 2012
Born and raised in Germany but with a British father, Philip Hindes had the task of leading out the GB trio in their Olympic team sprint qualifying heat against Germany. He got off to a wobbly start and appeared to deliberately ditch his ride before the first bend. His team-mates, Sir Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny, successfully appealed for a restart. "So I crashed," Hindes said in a trackside interview. "I did it on purpose just to get the restart." The 19-year-old was quick to backtrack after the team won gold in the final, insisting the fall had been accidental: "I just went out the gate and lost control, just fell down."
The boxer who threatened to shoot David Haye
It was clear that Dereck Chisora was spoiling for a fight long before the first blow was struck in his WBC world heavyweight title bout with Vitali Klitschko in Munich in February. The Londoner slapped his opponent at the weigh-in and spat in the face of his brother Wladimir at ringside. Then, after losing on points, Del Boy squared up to David Haye at the post-fight press conference, saying he was going to shoot his fellow Briton as a brawl broke out. Chisora was visited by German police the next day and had his licence revoked but got a legitimate shot at Haye in the ring at Upton Park in July. He was stopped in the fifth.
The footballers who were caught in racism storms
A 14-year-old boy in Leeds receives a five-match ban for telling a referee, upon being sent off, that his name is Santa Claus. John Terry, a 32-year-old multimillionaire and former England captain, is given a four-match ban after being found guilty by the Football Association of using "abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour" which "included a reference to the ethnic origin and/or race" of Anton Ferdinand. Chelsea chose to retain Terry as captain. All this in a year in which Luis Suarez served an eight-match ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra, then refused to shake his hand before a match in February.
... and the Chancellor who was booed at the Paralympics
It was wondrous to behold. First there was mild amusement on George Osborne's face as he stepped forward to present the medals for the men's T38 400m at the Paralympics, to the initial sound of guffaws. That turned to a tortured look of hurt as the boos then rang round the 80,000-seater Olympic Stadium. You almost felt sorry for the Chancellor. Almost. Truly a golden moment of London 2012.