Top 5 fallen heroes of 2012

OPINION

Here's the top five sporting lows for 2012 (or bottom, depending how you look at it). 

Thumbs down No 1 - Lance Armstrong

Has there ever been a more poignant, dream-destroying moment in the history of sport than when the US Anti-Doping Agency revealed its damning report. This included heartfelt admissions from Armstrong's former teammates about drug-taking in the sport and Lance Armstrong, the sport's icon, as ringleader.

The starkest submission came from his most trusted former ally, George Hincapie. Even loyal Armstrong supporters submitted to the weight of evidence. A common inspirational theme in the Armstrong story had been the cancer survivor who battled back to win the brutal Tour de France seven times.

To find out it that it was all a lie was a crushing indictment of how destructive fame and wealth can be. An indictment of the artful con. Of deception and fraud of the highest order.

Armstrong stole those sporting dreams and must face the full judgment of public opinion.

2. Magnussen reaction - Australia's Olympic 4x100 freestyle relay

James Magnussen talked up a massive game before the Olympics in London. And Australia gave the pool flyer the benefit of the doubt. But the words evaporated when the favourites couldn't manage a place in the marquee sprint. Magnussen was stunned - and gruff. It set the tone for an Australian team which could manage only one gold medal at the pool.

The chain reaction from that moment was massivelw introspection and an inquiry about Swimming Australia. But the lesson here was the folly of arrogance and over-inflated egos: talk less, produce more.

3. Adam Scott - British Open blowup

Australia's No 1 golfer and world No 5 still seems to be in denial about what really happened in the British Open when he cruelled a four-shot lead with the same number of holes remaining, at Lytham, St Annes. Which is just fine if that works for the likeable Scott.

But this was cruel stuff. It came without warning. Unlike Greg Norman's epic Master's meltdown where he basically couldn't find it from the start of the final round, Scott was playing like a gem.

The swing was true, the contenders fell away, the lead increased. Scott's conservative play at the 15th, culminating in an awkward 3 putt, started the rot. Three more bogeys followed, and Scott handed over the claret jug to Ernie Els.

It was excruciating to watch. The way Scott handled himself in the aftermath was admirable but it can't cloud the truth: this was a major opportunity butchered.

4. Damien Oliver - betting on a rival mount

This was a failure all round. The word was out that Oliver had bet on a rival mount in a race he had ridden in 2010. Yet Racing Victoria allowed Oliver to ride on Melbourne Cup Day, in the big race and across the carnival.

A disgraceful turn of events! Wallowing in champagne, arrogance and the glow of the international spotlight, Racing Victoria put self-interest first and credibility second. Coming so soon after the Danny Nikolic saga, this just adds to the stench surrounding this industry.

5. The Wallabies - Quade Cooper

Though the Wallabies posted some creditable performances in 2012 - notably the win under pressure against England - they must be feeling the heat.

Except whenever they've been facing defeat in the final few minutes, as they were against Wales, their play has been boring and predictable. They are not compelling viewing.

Yet still Robbie Deans remains in the coaching role. It's a conundrum. Sure, they've had personnel issues with injury. But the nation wants more from its rugby team.

Quade Cooper's mid-season "toxic" outburst said much about the individual and the collective under the Wallabies banner.

Just not good enough!

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