The Top 10 Most Wrongly Accused Athletes Ever
Being a star athlete or sports figure in this modern age means constant media attention. Everyone wants to know about their favorite players beyond the lines.
Information and pictures often cross ethical lines. The paparazzi and gossip columnists spare no one.
Athletes have now crossed over into that realm. TMZ, Perez Hilton and most of the local gossip columns all want know what sports celebrities are doing.
10) Bernard Lagat- Long Distance Runner
Lagat is a long distance runner from Kenya. He had a suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs overturned after his test A did not match test B.
He also threatened to sue the IAAF over the case. Some have claimed that Lagat was only cleared because of the threatened lawsuit.
9) Jose Reyes - Mets SS
Jose Reyes played in only 36 games during the 2009 season due to a calf injury. His injury struggles continued into the 2010 season. He had to begin the season in the disabled list with an overactive thyroid.
The injuries sparked talk that Reyes' injuries were caused by the possible use of performance-enhancing drugs.
The New York Daily News tried to link his injury problems to use of the Human Growth Hormone. The implication by the Daily News that Reyes used HGH was unfounded without actual proof.
8) Carl Lewis- Olympic Legend
Despite being a nine-time Gold Medalist over three Olympic games, Lewis never seemed to be truly accepted as the Superstar athlete that he was. He has been accused of both being gay and of using performance-enhancing drugs.
He had to watch Ben Johnson defeat him in the 100 meters in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, while setting a world record along the way. Lewis would later receive the Gold after Johnson was the one found to be using performance enhancing drugs.
The gay rumors were also never proven true. The rumors probably cost Lewis endorsements in an era when being gay wasn't as accepted as much as today.
7) Diane Modahl - UK Middle Distance Runner
Diane Modahl was a middle distance runner from the United Kingdom whose career was sidetracked at its peak.
After competing in the Olympics in 1988 in Seoul and 1992 in Barcelona, Modahl was suspended in 1994 for supposedly taking testosterone. Modahl originally received a four-year ban.
A year later, the British Athletic Federation lifted her ban after it was determined the testing was mishandled by a lab in Portugal. It took yet another year for Modahl to gain her eligibility back.
6) Warren Sapp - Former All-Pro Defensive Lineman
Sapp was taken off the air as an analyst on the NFL Network after being suspended on suspicion of domestic battery during Super Bowl week in Miami.
He was accused of choking a female companion. Later, the charges were dropped by the state's attorney's office in Florida.
5) Yarmo Green - Former Chicago HS Football Star
In 1994, Green was one of the most highly recruited football players in the Chicago area. Green was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Earlier this year, the prosecution's main witness in the case recanted her testimony. The witness claims that the police paid her to lie on the stand to help convict Green.
Green was originally sentenced to 40 years in prison and is eligible for parole in 2014. Even though the witness recanted in 2008, Green has yet to be released from prison.
4) Lance Armstrong - Seven-Time Tour de France Winner
There are some who believe that everyone in cycling uses performance-enhancing drugs and blood doping on some level.
Other have suggested that Lance Armstrong got testicular cancer as a result of doing something illegal. Armstrong has been accused by everyone imaginable.
Media in Europe and fellow cyclists have claimed that Armstrong uses performance-enhancing drugs and/or doping.
Armstrong is the self-proclaimed most tested athlete on earth. Nothing has come back positive yet.
Until that day happens, for now Armstrong remains ahead of the drug testing.
3) Mike Piazza - Future Hall of Fame Catcher
Rumors surrounding Mike Piazza's sexuality swirled during the end of his Hall of Fame career.
Piazza called a news conference in May 2002 to deny the rumors. Many pop culture references and media reports implied that Piazza was gay.
A New York Post quote said ""There is a persistent rumor around town that one Mets star who spends a lot of time with pretty models in clubs is actually gay and has started to think about declaring his sexual orientation."
Belle and Sebastian penned the song Piazza's, New York Catcher addressing those persistent rumors. A line in the song asks directly "Piazza, are you straight or are you gay?"
Many assumed that a play about a gay baseball player who plays for the fictional New York Empires was loosely based on Piazza. The lead character in the play comes out of the closet and is mixed race.
Other assumptions about Piazza sexuality were made after the editor of the gay magazine Out, Brendan Lemon, disclosed he was having an affair with "An (Undisclosed) East Coast Ballplayer."
During the press conference, Piazza quelled those rumors. "I am not gay, I am Heterosexual...I can't control what people say, I date women."
Piazza would later marry former playboy playmate and Baywatch actress Alicia Rickter. They have two daughters together.
2) Rubin Carter - Former Professional Boxer
At the height of his boxing career, Rubin "Hurricane" Carter was convicted of murdering two men and one woman in June 1966. It took until 1985 before Carter was finally exonerated.
Carter was convicted a second time in 1976. He would finally be exonerated after an appeal following the second conviction.
Judge Haddon Lee Sarokin ruled that Carter and John Artis had not received a fair trial. Sarokin ruled that the trial was based on "racism rather than reason...and concealment rather than disclosure."
Carter and Artis' convictions came at the hands of an all-white jury. Carter did have past run-ins with the law and actually served time in juvenile detention and prison earlier in his life.
In prison, Carter refused to act like other prisoners on the belief that he was not guilty. He would not eat the prison food or wear the prison uniform. He mostly stayed in his cell and read.
Carter's exoneration was helped in part by a group of young Canadians. Carter has since emigrated to Toronto.
He was the Executive Director of the Association in the Defense of the Wrongly Convicted from 1993 to 2005. He eventually resigned when the prosecutor of a wrongly convicted man was promoted to Judge.
1) 2006 Duke LaCrosse Team
The Duke LaCrosse case is the most recent and well known case in sports of someone that was wrongly accused.
On the night of March 16, 2006, the Duke LaCrosse team hired Crystal Gail Mangum as a stripper for a team party. Ms. Mangum accused Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans of raping her.
Inconsistencies began to arise in Mangum's information provided to the police. Eventually, the other stripper, Kim Roberts, supported the players' innocence.
The fallout from the accusations was that Duke's 2006 season was cancelled. The players on that 2006 team, would eventually be granted an extra season of eligibility.
Seligmann transferred to Brown, while Finnerty finished his collegiate career at Loyola of Maryland. Evans graduated and would never reclaim that year of eligibility.
Both the prosecutor, Mike Nifong and Ms. Mangum's lives would never be the same. Nifong was eventually disbarred from the North Carolina Bar.
Mangum, although graduating from North Carolina Center, would eventually be charged with numerous crimes in a domestic dispute case including arson and attempted murder in 2010.