Being a world class athlete brings with it a certain amount of responsibility and honour.

Some embrace it, some battle with it and some bottle it.

Former English football captain John Terry is currently in the middle of a battle to clear his name from the latter category, after standing accused of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers centre-back Anton Ferdinand.

However he is not the first high profile sportsman to be hauled before the courts - charged with tarnishing his 'good' name forever.

Advertisement

Here are our top five sport's court battles.

John Terry:

Despite thousands of football fans throughout the world watching Terry utter the phrase "f***** b**** c****" on YouTube, Terry insists he is no racist.

The prosecution insists he 'snapped', arguing that Ferdinand's constant abuse over his sordid past drove him to the point of racism. Terry's defence maintains he was simply repeating the phrase that Ferdinand had accused him of saying.

One thing is for sure, the landmark case for English football is doing the game no favours at all. The graphic insight to what really takes place during an elite-level English football match is embarrassing for all concerned.

Former English coach Fabio Capello and defender Rio Ferdinand have been drawn into the malaise - both losing their roles with the team over the court-case fallout.

Capello resigned after the FA removed Terry from the captaincy without his blessing, while Anton's brother Rio was left out of the English squad for Euro 2012 when it became obvious the two could no longer play together.

Lance Armstrong:

Advertisement

Lance Armstrong did it all. He won a record breaking seven consecutive Tour de France races, he survived testicular cancer and he founded the Lance Armstrong foundation for cancer support.

However, he is also standing accused of cheating.

Last month the US anti-doping agency (USADA) officially charged Armstrong with the consumption of illicit performance enhancing drugs, based on blood samples from 2009 and 2010, and testimony from other cyclists. He has denied all charges but if found guilty he will be stripped of all his titles as well as his legacy.

Armstrong, who retired in 2011, says he has passed more than 500 drug tests in his career and was never flagged for a positive test.

He filed his own lawsuit in federal court on Monday against the USADA, which a judge threw out later the same day.

Blade Runner:

Oscar Pistorious was nicknamed the "fastest man on no legs" after establishing himself as one the world's leading Paralympians.

Pistorious, a double amputee, runs on artificial carbon fibre limbs, technical devices which the IAAF had amended its rules to ban.

After monitoring his performances it was concluded Pistorious had an added advantage over able-bodied athletes and ruled him ineligible for their competitions.

Pistorious successfully overturned that decision at the Court for Arbitration for Sport and has since qualified to represent South Africa in the 4x400m relay event at the Beijing Olympics.

Despite the court's ruling, the debate surrounding Pistorious' ability to race against his able-bodied opponents continues to rage.
Barry Bonds:

Bonds' accomplishments during his baseball career place him among the greatest baseball players of all time.

He was a 14-time All Star and 8-time Gold Glove winner and holds a mountain of records including the all-time MLB home run record of 762.

Some called him a freak, with unnatural striking power and ability. Others went further and said he was being aided by steroids.

In 2007, he was indicted on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to the grand jury during the government's investigation by testifying that he never knowingly took any illegal steroids.

He was convicted of the charge on April 13, 2011 and will be remembered by many with an asterisk mark next to his tainted name.

Dennis Connor

The America's Cup is so prone to protest action, that there is often conjecture about whether the silverware is won "on the water, or in the courtroom".

The protests have been too numerous to begin to mention (the protest flag seems to make an appearance each race, if not several times each race), but the most memorable piece of legalese was probably one that affected the 1988 campaign.

The challenge initially came about through Sir Michael Fay, a merchant banker, who saw an opportunity in the Deed of Gift to initiate a direct challenge that would exclude other teams, and avoid the need for a challenger selection series.

A legal battle ensued over the challenge, with Justice Carmen Ciparick of the New York State ruling that Fay's challenge was valid.

The court ordered San Diego Yacht Club (SDYC) to accept it and negotiate mutually agreeable terms for a match, or to race under the default provisions of the Deed, or to forfeit the Cup.

Forced to race, and lacking time for preparation, Conner and SYDC looked for a way to prevail. Connor bent the rules claiming time was too short to build something matching the Kiwis' design, instead putting up a speedy catamaran to race against New Zealand's Bruce Farr-designed monohull KZ-1, the so-called "big boat".

The farcical mis-match had to be held, so in four "races", the swift cat left KZ-1 - and Kiwi hopes - in its wake.

- HERALD ONLINE