Tiger Woods and Oscar Pistorius will forever find their sporting legacy overshadowed by their misdemeanours away from competition.
Despite being a 14-time major golf champion, years of infidelity have dented the American's reputation while the Paralympic pioneer's standing has been damaged beyond repair after being found guilty of culpable homicide.
Both sportsmen are examples of how an individuals' status can divide opinion, regardless of their unparalleled success on the world stage or the scale of their transgressions. You will find people willing to fight either corner.
The legacy left by Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, following the confirmation of his intention to retire at the end of his 17th year at Anfield, could provoke similarly feisty debate among supporters, the media and former players such is the disparity between the two most striking moments of his career.
Gerrard's status as Liverpool's finest player of the Premier League era is undeniable. Across 16-and-a-half years as a professional on Merseyside, the 34-year-old produced some of the most iconic performances by an English player for one of the biggest clubs in the world.
Istanbul, and the Champions League final of 2005 against AC Milan, witnessed the best of Gerrard. Trailing 3-0 at half-time to a rampant AC Milan, Gerrard pulled Liverpool kicking and screaming towards their fifth European Cup with a stunning second-half display.
It is hard to think of a greater performance from an English player in a major club final in the history of the game, a showing made all the more impressive given it spearheaded an indifferent Liverpool side under Rafael Benitez.
The blotch on Gerrard's CV remains the absence of a top flight championship winner's medal, something that many of his rivals to the title of Liverpool's greatest ever player all possess. At Anfield in April 2014, Gerrard saw a first title slip through his fingers... or, more literally, beneath his feet.
Having misjudged Mamadou Sakho's pass, Gerrard stumbled under the attention of Demba Ba who strolled through to give Chelsea a lead and victory which squeezed the life out of Liverpool's title hopes.
Though social media jibes have attempted to inflate the enormity of the blunder, there remains little doubt that without a league title to his name, the error which all-but-scuppered Gerrard's hopes of earning immortality is among the defining moments of his career.
Handing players such swift and decisive labels is the by-product of a society which demands instant satisfaction and relishes the here-and-now. Gerrard is not Liverpool's greatest ever, not because of his failures, but merely due to the enormous competition.
The scale of his achievements, in Istanbul and then 12 months later in Cardiff in the FA Cup final against West Ham United, means Gerrard's extraordinary body of work is too strong to be overshadowed by one slip on a late spring afternoon, however much people may try.