After the glory of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year it is now time to focus on 2012's villains, when the darker side of sport had just as great a voice as those of its counterparts.
Compiled below is an eight-man list of individuals you could talk about all day for all the wrong reasons.
Perhaps the favourite to top the poll, the 'triumph in the face of adversity' factor Armstrong took God-like pride in standing for was finally shattered this year. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said the Texan used banned substances, including the blood-booster EPO and steroids, as well as blood transfusions dating back to 1996. Stripped of the seven Tour de France titles he won between 1999 and 2005, his sponsors then began to desert him like rats on a sinking ship and he lost his Tufts University honorary degree. Even his Livestrong cancer charity have dropped his name.
But is Armstrong penitent? No. Rather than finally come (ahem) clean, he posted a picture of himself on Twitter laying on a sofa surrounded by his seven yellow jerseys. The delusion.
You can masquerade as a pseudo-intellect by quoting Nietszche, toning down your thick Scouse accent and love The Smiths all you like, Joey, but a leopard never changes its spots. Barton, indulged by The Guardian to such a preposterously pretentious degree on one occasion this year, was captain of QPR when he elbowed Carlos Tévez and kneed Sergio Agüero before making a beeline for Mario Balotelli as his club bid to avoid relegation. His stupidity and thuggishness - two traits he is synonymous with - ensured QPR eventually lost 3-2 while Barton lost his place in English football. He has since absconded to Marseille, where the cracks of his facade have widened again with that press conference.
So toxic he cost an England manager his job, an England defender a Euro 2012 squad berth and still had the temerity to claim his position in the international set-up was "untenable". Why? Because the Football Association had charged him, and would subsequently find him guilty, of calling Anton Ferdinand a "f****** black c***". And we've not even mentioned him changing into a full kit - shinpads included - to celebrate Chelsea's Champions League final win, a game he was of course suspended for.
An annual inclusion by default, the clownish bureaucrat has succeeded again this year in undermining racism in football, brushing incidents under an already bloated carpet. Although not quite as odious as sporting forefather Jean-Marie Balestre, he continues to give French-speaking sport executives a bad name.
When will the tedium end? Some have suggested Balotelli is the 21st century Cantona, only whereas the Frenchman's mystique and majesty felt organic the Italian's is manufactured and tiring. What's so crazy and lovable about interrupting a press conference? Or flexing your muscles after a goal? His wacky adventures are knowingly in full view of the cameras, much like Alan Pardew and he's hardly popular, is he? As Gary Neville said after his red card at Arsenal, "It’s a circus and every time I’ve been to a circus there’s always been some clowns."
A late but worthy contender, Adriano was suspended for Shakhtar Donetsk's final Champions League group game with Juventus for an act of shameless unsporting behaviour. After his team-mate Willian attempted to give Nordsjaelland possession of the ball following a break for injury, Adriano decided to intercept the pass, round the keeper and stick the ball in the net. It was the first of his trio in Shakhtar's 5-2 win.
He may not be a sportsman, but the chairman of the Society of Black Lawyers threatened to report Tottenham fans to the police for chanting the word 'Yid' when it is opposition fans' songs about Jews which are deserving of greater exposure.
A man whose numberplate is "P LAW", Herbert's organisation complained to the police that Mark Clattenburg had accused him of using "inappropriate language" against John Obi Mikel after Chelsea's claim. Whereas Chelsea were duty-bound to investigate Ramires's claims (albeit poorly) and report to the FA, the Society's intentions were arguably all about publicity and not about the benefit of the game.
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