With around-the-clock, high-speed access to the Internet, rumors can fly quickly, allowing small suspicions to snowball into major news stories. Those doubts are compounded by the extreme pressure we put on our celebrities, including our celebrity athletes.
"We tend to do two things to people in the news," said Nate Zinsser, a certified sport psychology consultant who works with Olympic and professional athletes and is also director of the sports psychology program at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.
"We tend to elevate them to godlike status or we reduce them to dirtbag status," he said. "If you look at the way the media treats athletes, Lance Armstrong was a god and then he became dirt. I think the truth is probably somewhere in between for everybody."
Beyond doping scandals, there may also be some inherently insecure side of human nature that causes people to find fault in others as a way to feel better about themselves.
"I can't prove this, but I've seen enough examples of people looking for heroes to inspire them and also for anti-heroes to denigrate," Zinsser said. "I think there's a bit of a pull for people to look for the best in others and actually seek inspiration, and then there's also a pull for people to find other people to look down upon to separate themselves from and think, ‘I'm better than that.'"