Sydney - When
disgraced Australian cricketer Steve Smith faced the cameras in Sydney
on Thursday with a tearful apology for a ball-tampering scandal, he
joined a small club of sports stars who have very publicly said sorry.
Athletes have played the penitent for everything from cheating at
their sport to cheating on a wife; from pre-meditated assault on a rival
to simply losing.
Here are five high-profile mea culpas:
Gianluigi Buffon - 2017
Fans reacted with shock
and disbelief last year when Italy failed to qualify for the Soccer World Cup for the first time since 1958 - a failure dubbed an
"apocalypse" by the nation's press.
"I'm not sorry for myself but all of Italian football," an
inconsolable team captain Gianluigi Buffon said after the Azzuri missed
out on qualification for the 2018 edition in Russia. "We failed at
something which also means something on a social level. There's regret
at finishing like that, not because time passes."
Buffon, one of the greatest goalkeepers of the modern era, also
announced his retirement from international football after Sweden went
through at Italy's expense.
Lance Armstrong - 2013
Cycling star Lance Armstrong
admitted in a 2013 interview with Oprah Winfrey that he took
performance-enhancing drugs during his glittering career.
"I made my decisions. They're my mistake. And I'm sitting here today
to acknowledge that and to say I'm sorry for that," the seven-time Tour
de France winner told Winfrey.
The American cyclist and cancer-survivor had all his titles taken
away over the scandal, which shattered his reputation as one of the most
widely-admired athletes in the world for both his sporting achievements
and his philanthropic work through the Livestrong Foundation.
Tiger Woods - 2010
Golf superstar Tiger Woods went on
national television in 2010 to apologise to his family after a string of
scandalous disclosures about his private life, including the revelation
that he was a serial cheat.
"I know I have severely disappointed all of you. I have made you
question who I am and how I have done the things I did. I am embarrassed
that I have put you in this position," Woods said. "For all that I have
done, I am so sorry. I have a lot to atone for."
The scandal seriously damaged the American's carefully-cultivated
image, sent his sponsors fleeing and eventually ended his marriage.
Marion Jones - 2007
US sprinter Marion Jones was
sentenced to six months in jail and banned for two years for using
performance-enhancing drugs before the 2000 Sydney Games - and lying to
US federal investigators.
"It is with a great amount of shame that I stand before you and tell
you that I have betrayed your trust," a tearful Jones said after
pleading guilty to the charges in October 2007. "I have let (my family)
down, I have let my country down, and I have let myself down."
Jones was stripped of the three gold and two bronze medals she won in
Sydney, and was also ordered to repay over $100 000 in prize and bonus
Tonya Harding - 1994
American figure skater Tonya
Harding was banished from the sport over an attack on rival Nancy
Kerrigan, who had her knee bashed a month before the 1994 Winter
A visibly emotional Harding apologised a few months after the attack
for not honestly reporting what she discovered about the plot - hatched
by her ex-husband - but denied she had any prior knowledge.
"Many of you will be unable to forgive me for that. It will be
difficult to forgive myself," she said in a 1994 press statement, and
appeared to choke up several times.
Harding was later convicted of trying to cover up the conspiracy, which was the subject of the acclaimed 2017 film "I, Tonya".