Disgraced US cyclist Lance Armstrong, who confessed last month to doping after being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles last year, tops the new Forbes magazine list of most-disliked US athletes.
The list, released on the magazine’s Web site on Wednesday, saw Armstrong edge collegiate American football player Manti Te’o on a higher name recognition tie-breaker after each had only 15 percent appeal in a Nielsen/E-Poll survey.
Armstrong backpedaled on years of denials last month by admitting he had taken performance-enhancing drugs during his 1999-2005 victory run in the Tour, tainting his cancer-comeback story and Livestrong Foundation charity efforts.
Te’o was a linebacker for Notre Dame, which lost to Alabama in last month’s US college gridiron title game, and finished second in Heisman Trophy voting as last season’s top player, making him a top National Football League prospect.
However, then came the revelation that the girlfriend whose death he grieved in the season had never existed, only the product of Internet fakery and a voice on a telephone. He said he was not involved in the hoax and was merely duped, even when lying about having met the fictional girlfriend.
Tiger Woods, the 14-time major golf champion who won his 75th career USPGA Tour title last month at Torrey Pines, was third on the list at 19 percent appeal, a likely lingering aftermath of the epic sex scandal that destroyed his marriage, and damaged his iconic good-guy marketing image and sponsorship deals.
NFL Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was fourth, followed in order by Metta World Peace of the NBA Los Angeles Lakers, Alex Rodriguez of Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees, NFL Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, US stock car racer Kurt Busch, World Peace’s teammate Kobe Bryant and NFL Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
Rodriguez, who admitted taking performance-enhancing substances in 2009, was linked to such drugs again in a Miami New Times report last month based on records obtained from an employee at Biogenesis, a Miami clinic that allegedly supplied human growth hormone and other drugs to major league players.
Vick, a former disliked-list topper, spent time in prison for his role in a dog-fight gambling ring, which included slaying underperforming dogs.
Among those dropping off the list from last year was NBA superstar LeBron James, who upset many fans when he departed the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat. Last year, James led the Heat to an NBA crown, the first of his career, and helped the US Olympic team of NBA stars capture gold at the London Olympics last year.