Olympic athletes who compete with the law

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oscar pistorius 1

REUTERS

Oscar Pistorius faces a charge of premeditated murder over the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

 Cape Town - The Olympic Games has attracted the world's best athletes for decades, but this has not immunised them from encounters with the law.

The most recent incident involves South African Paralympian Oscar Pistorius, who was arrested on Thursday.

His model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead in his Pretoria home on Valentine's Day.

The six-time Paralympic gold medallist went overnight from “Blade Runner” to “Blade Gunner”, as the Daily Voice newspaper nicknamed him amid uncertainty over the circumstances of the shooting.

At Pistorius' first appearance in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Friday, State prosecutor Gerrie Nel said he intended bringing a case of premeditated murder against the weeping athlete.

Curiously, Nel is no stranger at butting heads with Olympic athletes in court.

He led the prosecution in the trial against former Nigerian Olympic athlete Ambrose Monye and others for the killing of young assistant teacher Chanelle Henning in November 2011.

Monye won a silver medal in the 1993 Olympics 400m hurdles.

The State alleges he hired two men to kill Henning for R10 000 each.

It was revealed in the Pretoria Regional Court that on the day of the shooting he was acquitted of killing a man in a road rage incident in Pretoria in 2009.

Internationally, reports of arrested Olympic athletes involve a heady cocktail of sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll.

Five-time Olympic medallist Marion Jones famously pled guilty to lying to two juries in a steroid investigation and spent six months in jail.

The United States track and fielder forfeited all her medals, results, prizes, and points obtained after September 2000.

Jones' ex-boyfriend Tim Montgomery found himself tangled in the steroid scandal and was banned from track and field events.

Montgomery won an Olympic gold medal in 2000 and was the fastest man in the world in 2002.

He found himself behind bars for two separate criminal matters. In 2006, he pleaded guilty to depositing counterfeit cheques worth about US5 million at the time and was given four years imprisonment. In 2008, he was found guilty of dealing in heroin many years before and was handed another five years sentence.

In Austria, former Olympic figure-skater Wolfgang Schwarz was taken off the ice and put in jail for plotting to kidnap the teenage daughter of a Romanian businessman.

He apparently wanted to hold the daughter ransom for a few million Euros.

Schwarz, who won gold in 1968, was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2006.

Before that, he was convicted in 2002 of human trafficking after he brought five women from Russia and Lithuania to Austria to work as prostitutes.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Scottish athlete David Jenkins turned his life around after he was convicted in the US for trafficking steroids worth around US100 million.

The 1972 silver and gold medallist runner was sentenced to seven years in jail, but served only six months.

He set up a successful sports nutrition company with a partner and developed the world's first carbonated protein drinks.

Even the most decorated Olympian of all time, US swimmer Michael Phelps, did not escape the long arm of the law.

The retired 22-medal holder was arrested at the age of 19 in 2004 for driving under the influence of alcohol.

He was sentenced to 18 months probation, fined, and visited three high schools to warn pupils about the dangers of alcohol.

On a lighter note, some medallists' encounters with the law have been more embarrassing than anything else.

Two-times Olympic gold medallist snowboarder Shaun White was arrested in September 2012 for public intoxication and vandalism.

The man nicknamed “The Flying Tomato” apparently fled a hotel when police showed up and he hit his head when a guest tried to chase after him.

He had to go for counselling, do community service, and pay the hotel for the damage he had caused. - Sapa


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