Year of triumph, disgrace, bungling, feuds

22:15, Jan 05 2013
Lance Armstrong
HERO TO ZERO: Lance Armstrong after winning the 2005 Tour de France. He has now been stripped of all seven of his titles.

Questions from 2012, and for the New Year.

If the whole group qualifies as a team, how could the full rowing squad at the Olympics not win the Halberg team of the year section?

Which is the most user-friendly team in New Zealand, the Breakers, who are deeply embedded in the North Shore community, or the Chiefs, of whom a local sponsor has said, "last year you were lucky if one player turned up for a promotion, this year you got 15"? Do the Breakers just sneak in because, in Tom Abercrombie, they have the model of the good guy as sports hero? Or is his appeal matched by Aaron Cruden, someone the size of a ball boy who plays like a giant?

Aaron Cruden
PUNCHING ABOVE HIS WEIGHT: Aaron Cruden of the All Blacks lines up a conversion during the international match between Wales and New Zealand.

Is it (a) unpatriotic, (b) disgraceful, (c) appallingly cynical, or (d) all of the above, if in some dark, secret corner of your mind you wonder if the Black Caps' Twenty20 win in East London might in some way be connected to a very large bet in India?

Talking of cricket and India, has there ever been a more shifty looking bunch in a court case than the mob who testified against Chris Cairns when he successfully sued Lalit Modi for libel?

Given the racist bleats every time the Warriors or the Blues lose - that there are too many brown players in the teams - how entertaining was the claim by former South Africa coach Peter De Villiers that the Springboks were struggling because there were too many white players in the side? Would De Villiers say the same of the current Black Caps? Would he be right?


Breakers STD
SPORTING NICE GUY: Tom Abercrombie of the New Zealand Breakers.

Was the biggest revelation in the Lance Armstrong case the extent of his cheating, or what an absolute prick he apparently is as a person?

How keen is the sense of humour of the editor at TV3 who manages to work into every pre-season Warriors story a clip of the players training that looks like Turkish oil wrestling?

Has there been a more damning example of the battle the Blues face in getting respect than giant Canterbury lock Dominic Bird saying that he feels he will be better off in the long term being a bench player in Christchurch in 2013 than a starter in Auckland?

Are you surprised to learn that the only title to top the stunningly successful Richie McCaw book on New Zealand bestseller lists this year was 50 Shades of Grey? Should rugby tragics feel faint at the news sex is more popular than footy? And in the McCaw book, what was the biggest surprise? That the All Blacks didn't practice kicking a dropped goal before the 2007 quarter-final? Or that referee Wayne Barnes, in a post-2007 private session with the All Blacks leaders, made criticism from Murray Deaker and his talkback followers look like a gentle rebuke from mealy-mouthed Sunday school teachers?

How much longer will it take WADA (the world anti-drug agency) or the IAAF (world athletics body) to appeal the ridiculously short one-year ban applied by Belarus on their shot-put cheat Nadzeya Ostapchuk? Or do they actually believe that her coach sprinkled drugs over her food and she didn't know? Did the coach's explanation make "the dog ate my homework" look as creative as Shakespeare?

We know professional boxing is dangerous and leaves many, from Muhammad Ali down, suffering brain damage. But following Howard Dobson's emotional meltdown over Shane Cameron, and Tracey Donaldson mistaking Jesse Ryder for Steve Price, does just covering the sport damage the mind?

What was the biggest administrative embarrassment of the year? The failure to enter Valerie Adams and Lucy Van Dalen in their events at the London Olympics? Or attempts to deflect the blame afterwards? Telling Ross Taylor he was being sacked as Black Caps captain just before a test? Or attempts to deflect the blame afterwards?

The Wellington sevens has attracted some attention over too much boozing and not enough sport. But would you happily bet an RTD to a carton of tinnies that nothing will change in February?

Will the first meeting of 2013 between Robbie Deans and Quade Cooper play a small role in chilling global warming? Or will that occur when Deans and Steve Hansen cross paths?

Sunday Star Times