Steve Hepburn identifies the top five stories in world
sport in 2012.
Enough is enough
During all those years that Lance Armstrong dominated the
Tour de France, there were doubts lingering in the back of
many minds about how he did it.
Was it all just willpower? Mental toughness?Last year, those
doubts came front and centre as Armstrong was exposed as a
cheat and a fraud.
After years fighting against the United States authorities,
Armstrong declared enough was enough and he would not
continue to fight the claims he had used drugs to win all his
From there, an avalanche of evidence came pouring out about
Armstrong and how he had orchestrated a sophisticated
drug-taking campaign to keep ahead of the drug testers.
He lost numerous sponsors and the sport was undoubtedly
One wonders if it can come back after taking so many hits.
This is how the Olympics, or any major sporting event, are
played out these days.
In the run-up to the event, there are dramas over numerous
things - accommodation, money worries, staffing and the
Then, as soon as the sport starts, all is forgotten and it
turns out great.
London in 2012 was no exception. Once the sports got under
way, the Games were thrilling.
Highlights had to be Usain Bolt again doing the business,
Michael Phelps and others in the pool, the judo, the
volleyball men's final, and the home team enjoying so much
Even the weather, which had been terrible for most of the
summer in the United Kingdom relented for long enough to
allow the event to go off without as much as a hitch.
Penn State problems
University sport in the United States is massive. It attracts
huge crowds and media coverage.
Sometimes, that gets in the way of what universities are set
up for: educating young people.
Penn State had been a powerhouse of college football for
years and had an iconic coach in Joe Paterno.
But his legacy was tainted by the antics of assistant coach
Sandusky was found guilty of sexual assault on boys which had
occurred over many years.
What made it even worse was that his behaviour was reported
to those high up in the university and they tried to hush it
up or failed to actively look into the complaints.
Paterno was fired, and then died. A statue of him outside the
football stadium was taken down. Sandusky was sent to jail
for a minimum of 30 years.
The university itself was fined US$60 million ($NZ72 million)
and stripped of many scholarships and all post-season play
for four years. Its football team did all right in the just
completed season but for many, the game had died.
Messi the magician
Lionel Messi just keeps getting better.
His Barcelona side did not win the Spanish league but Messi
managed to pass the mark for most goals scored in a calendar
It had been held by German Gerd Mueller but the Argentinian
passed that mark with 86 in early December.
Playing for one of the best club sides in the world
undoubtedly helps but Messi can do it all.
Of course, records are made to be broken and proved wrong,
with claims the Brazilian Zico and some African bloke have
Messi also scored a hat trick on February 29, so he made the
most of that extra day.
Andy Murray finally wins a Grand Slam
After getting through to the Wimbledon final and losing to
Roger Federer it looked like it was never going to happen for
Murray, though, finally got his mental game right and smashed
Federer to win a gold medal at the London Olympics.
Then he moved to New York to Flushing Meadows for the final
grand slam of the year.
He looked composed through the early rounds and then beat
Tomas Berdych in the semifinal.
Facing Novak Djokovic in the final, Murray won the first two
sets, lost the next two before winning the last 6-2 to become
the first British grand slam champion in 76 years.
Was given a hero's welcome back home but surprisingly was not
the country's sports personality of the year, losing out to
cyclist Bradley Wiggins.