The news from the South African capital of Pretoria last Thursday came as a disappointment of the highest, most crushing nature. We'd had athletes plummet to notoriety dramatically and recently, but not like this. The fall of cancer survivor-turned-Tour-de-France-champion Lance Armstrong, for example, at least offered the mercy of a gradual unveiling. By the time Armstrong himself came clean, it was almost like physically losing a father after years of Alzheimer's deterioration had already taken away the important parts.
But the news that Oscar Pistorius, the South African who became the first double amputee to compete against able-bodied runners at the London Olympics last summer, had been arrested for the murder of his supermodel girlfriend on Valentine's Day, was more brutally shocking, on several levels.
First, and most obviously, the crime of doping pales dramatically compared with murder. Second, there were no highly publicized rumors of Mike-Tyson-type bad behavior leading up to the incident, so we (the general fan/reader public) had no warning. Our image adjustment was abrupt and severe. And third, the news shattered a fantasy story—or stories—that we really, really wanted to believe.
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