The vices may be different, but the outcome is generally the same: Athletes that get caught up in these worlds ruin their careers and never live up to their potential. Here’s a roundup of athletes who were brought down by their demons.
American baseball player Josh Hamilton has had numerous struggles with drugs while playing in Major League Baseball in the early 2000s. In 2007, he told ESPN that he was saved from his addiction by his faith.
Soccer star Diego Maradona was known for his problems with cocaine use. In 1991, when he was playing with SSC Napoli, Maradona received a 15-month suspension for testing positive for a banned stimulant.
In an interview, the Argentinian said that he began taking it at age 24 when he was playing for FC Barcelona and that his addiction could have killed him.
In a book he wrote in 2009, the eight-time Grand Slam champion Andre Agassi admitted to having taken crystal meth in 1997.
At the time, Agassi lied to the Association of Tennis Professionals, saying that he had inadvertently consumed it in a cocktail made by his assistant. In Open, his autobiography, he admitted that it was a dark time in his life.
The left-winger who played for several NHL teams, including the New York Rangers, was known for his problems with drugs and alcohol.
Boogaard was under the care of the NHL Substance Abuse and Behavioural Health Program to help him with his problems when he was found dead of an overdose of oxycodone, an opioid pain reliever he was taking without a prescription.
Michael Phelps has garnered the most medals in the history of the Olympic Games, but he also admitted to having problems with alcohol consumption in 2014, when he was arrested for driving under the influence.
Phelps stated that he’d gone to rehab and attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. In 2009, a photo showing him taking a puff from a cannabis pipe went viral around the world.
The American cyclist went from hero to zero when he was caught by the United States Anti-Doping Agency in 2012.
He had received huge public support when he returned to competition after winning his battle with cancer in 1996, even creating his own foundation, Livestrong, to support cancer research. But Armstrong was banned from competition and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles by the International Cycling Union.
Goalie Robin Lehner opened up about his troubled relationship with alcohol and sleeping pills in an article he penned for the athletic in September 2018. During the therapy he was undergoing in March 2018, Lehner was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Having suited up for the Ottawa Senators, the Buffalo Sabres, and more recently the New York Islanders, in the summer of 2019, he received the Bill Masterton Trophy for his perseverance, just before signing with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Enforcer Chris Nilan played in the NHL from 1979 to 1992, with the Bruins, the Rangers, and the Canadiens, the whole time reinforcing his reputation as a tough guy.
But his role as brawler came back to haunt him after his career when he began taking opiates for pain relief—a habit that quickly turned into abuse.
The Canadian snowboarder made headlines in 1998 when he became the first gold medal winner in the new Olympic sport. Rebagliatiwas also the first to be disqualified for testing positive for cannabis.
In the end, he got to keep the medal he won in Nagano because cannabis wasn’t considered performance-enhancing, but he was refused entry into the U.S. to compete in the next Olympic Games in Salt Lake City because of his drug use. Twenty years after his mishaps, with pot now legal in Canada, Ross Rebagliati has come full circle, launching his own marijuana business.
The famous baseball player Alex Rodriguez repeatedly denied using steroids until one day, in 2009, when the truth came to light and he admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs.
A-Rod, subsequently nicknamed A-Roid, received the longest suspension in the history of baseball and was booed when he returned to the game. Still, Rodriguez was able to reclaim a place in the hearts of devoted Yankees fans.