The long career of record-breaking cyclist Lance Armstrong has been all but obliterated, following the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's decision to strip him of his seven Tour de France titles and ban him for life from professional cycling. While Armstrong has repeatedly denied that he ever took banned substances during his career, calling USADA's investigation a "witch hunt," the damage to his reputation has been done.
Lance Armstrong follows in a long line of once-great role models for kids, whose brilliant careers have been permanently tarnished.
* Tiger Woods. Before his seedy personal life became front-page fodder, professional golfer Tiger Woods appeared to be a doting family man who embraced his role model status. In 1996 Woods founded the Tiger Woods Foundation, which offered community-based programs for children, and the next year he told BusinessWeek, ''I think it's an honor to be a role model to one person or maybe more than that. If you are ever given a chance to be a role model, I think you should always take it because you can influence a person's life in a positive light, and that's what I want to do.'' That all changed following a 2009 infidelity scandal that resulted in the loss of major endorsement deals and the respect of many of his fans. Woods' name was later moved on a role models website, where he was changed from role model status to sports star status.
* Joe Paterno. The legendary Penn State football coach -- affectionately known as JoePa -- didn't live to see how badly his reputation was tarnished following the sex scandal that rocked the Pennsylvania campus. But amid posthumous findings that he helped cover up assistant coach Jerry Sandusky's crimes against children, NCAA sanctions were taken against the school's once-great football program, the famous statue of Paterno was removed from the school's stadium, and his name was taken off of a child care facility at Nike's company headquarters.
* Pete Rose. In 1989, the former Major League Baseball switch hitter was banned from the sport after he was caught betting on baseball games while he was a MLB manager. According to the Los Angeles Times, in 1990 Rose was convicted of filing false income tax returns and his sentence included 1,000 hours of community service at Cincinnati-area schools, where he could be "a role model to the children of the inner city." In 2011 Rose told Yahoo Sports, "If you're asking me 'Would I rather be managing a baseball team?' Sure, I would. But I screwed that up. I can't blame anybody; I'm the one that made the mistakes."
* Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. In 1998, MLB players Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire had kids all over the world cheering as they raced to beat Roger Maris's home run record. McGwire broke the record, but both his and Sosa's mega home runs were overshadowed by later reports that they tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. In 2010 a Missouri lawmaker petitioned to change the name of "The Mark McGwire Highway," a stretch of Interstate 70 renamed after McGwire hit 70 home runs in 1998. State Sen. Ryan McKenna said it was inappropriate to honor McGwire because he admitted to using steroids. The name of the five-mile stretch was later changed to Mark Twain Highway.
Victoria Leigh Miller is a freelance writer. She has been writing about parenting topics since 2001.
- Sports & Recreation
- Tiger Woods
- Lance Armstrong