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Boston Marathon bombing is AP sports story of the year

Tuesday, December 31, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 6:03 p.m. CST, Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Medical workers aid injured people following an explosion at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston in this photo taken April 15. The Boston Marathon bombing has been selected the sports story of the year in an annual vote conducted by The Associated Press.

NEW YORK — The Boston Marathon bombing was selected the sports story of the year in an annual vote conducted by The Associated Press.

Two pressure cooker bombs exploded near the finish line of the April 15 race in an area packed with fans cheering the passing runners. Three people were killed and more than 260 injured, including at least 16 who lost limbs.

Authorities say brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, ethnic Chechens from Russia who emigrated to the United States as children, planned and carried out the bombings in retaliation for U.S. involvement in Muslim countries.

Ninety-six ballots were submitted from U.S. editors and news directors. Voters were asked to rank the top 10 sports stories of the year, with the first-place story receiving 10 points, the second-place story nine points and so on.

The marathon attack received 761 points and 67 first-place votes. It was also second in AP's national/international story of the year poll.

The No. 2 sports story, Lance Armstrong's admission of doping, had five first-place votes and 517 points.

The top five stories were grim: terrorism, performance-enhancing drug use, legal settlements, murder charges. The first on-field action came in at No. 6 — the Boston Red Sox's worst-to-first World Series title, though even that was tinged by the city's heartache less than seven months earlier.

Here are 2013's top 10 stories:

1. BOSTON MARATHON BOMBINGS: The throngs of spectators lining the streets at a storied big-city marathon were once a wholesome scene of civic pride and friendly support. April's attack came as a haunting reminder that the crowds at a high-profile event are also a vulnerable target. Bag searches and metal detectors were a common sight at games the rest of the year. As victims persevere on prosthetic limbs, the 118th edition of the world's oldest marathon is set for the spring, with security undoubtedly heightened but runners determined to take part.

Lance Armstrong grimaces during a news conference after the Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas triathlon in Galveston, Texas, in April 2012. Photo by Michael Paulsen, Houston Chronicle, File

2. LANCE ARMSTRONG: The disgraced cyclist was also the No. 2 sports story last year. In 2012, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency stripped him of his record seven Tour de France titles, releasing mounds of evidence that he used PEDs to win them. In January, after years of defiant denials, Armstrong finally admitted it, telling Oprah Winfrey: "It's this myth, this perfect story, and it wasn't true."

3. NFL CONCUSSION SETTLEMENT: The NFL's settlement of lawsuits brought by thousands of former players will cost the league $765 million but won't end the turmoil over head injuries in football — or the litigation. The retirees, who had accused the NFL of concealing the long-term dangers of concussions, will be eligible for compensation for certain neurological ailments. The league did not admit to any wrongdoing after mediation resulted in a settlement in August.

Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Troy Patton tosses the ball to first to get Boston Red Sox's Mike Napoli out on a grounder in a baseball game in Boston in this Aug. 27 photo. Patton was suspended by Major League Baseball on Dec. 20, for the first 25 games of next season after a positive test for a banned amphetamine. Photo by Elise Amendola, The Associated Press, file

4. BASEBALL DRUG BANS: Alex Rodriguez's 211-game suspension was the longest of the 13 announced in August for players connected to a Florida anti-aging clinic accused of distributing banned PEDs. The Yankees' slugger was the only one to contest the penalty, and the year ends with an arbitrator yet to rule. In July, Ryan Braun, the 2011 NL MVP who had previously denied using banned substances, accepted a 65-game suspension.

Former New England Patriots NFL football player Aaron Hernandez is led into court in Attleboro, Mass., on Aug. 22. He is accused of shooting a friend to death. Photo by Josh Reynolds, The Associated Press, file

5. HERNANDEZ ARREST: On Jan. 20, New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez had nine catches for 83 yards in an AFC championship game loss to Baltimore. Just more than five months later, he was charged with murder. Prosecutors accuse him of shooting a friend to death on a secluded gravel road for talking to the wrong people at a nightclub. Hernandez awaits trial amid revelations of a history of violence by the player.

Boston Red Sox left fielder Jonny Gomes runs with a championship flag after defeating the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of baseball's World Series, in Boston on Oct. 31. The Red Sox won 6-1 to win the series. Photo by Elise Amendola, The Associated Press, file

6. RED SOX WIN: Boston's 2011 season ended with a collapse and tales of fried chicken and beer in the clubhouse; 2012 ended with a last-place finish and 93 losses. New manager John Farrell and his bearded sluggers embraced "Boston Strong" and tied for the best record in the majors in a turnaround few predicted. With timely hits up and down the lineup throughout the playoffs, the Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals in six games for their third World Series title in a decade.

7. RAVENS SUPER: The power came back on, and Baltimore held on. Ravens coach John Harbaugh beat younger brother Jim's San Francisco 49ers 34-31 in the Super Bowl in an unprecedented sibling showdown. But the game will be remembered most for the 34-minute outage at the Superdome in New Orleans. Baltimore star linebacker Ray Lewis rode into retirement with a ring.

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, center, watches the first half of the Nov. 2 football game against Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark. Malzahn led the second-ranked Tigers' transformation into Southeastern Conference champions and has them in the national championship game Jan. 6 against No. 1 Florida State. Photo by Danny Johnston, The Associated Press, file

8. AWESOME AUBURN: The Tigers' turnaround from a 3-9 record to the national title game was stunning enough. Even more shocking was how they did it. A deflected 73-yard touchdown pass with 25 seconds left gave Auburn a 43-38 win over Georgia on Nov. 16. The play that ended their next game will go down as one of the most memorable in college football history: Chris Davis' return of a missed field goal attempt more than 100 yards to beat No. 1 Alabama 34-28.

In this Jan. 18 photo provided by ESPN, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o pauses during an interview with ESPN in Bradenton, Fla. Days after playing in a national title game, he became linked to a bizarre story about having a girlfriend that never existed. Photo by ESPN, file

9. TE'O HOAX: Heisman Trophy runner-up Manti Te'o struggled in Notre Dame's lopsided loss to Alabama in the national title game Jan. 7. Nine days later, his name became forever linked to a most bizarre sports story. That tragic tale about his girlfriend's death told over and over as the linebacker starred for an undefeated team? She didn't exist. Te'o insisted he was duped into believing the woman he never met in person was real.

Miami Heat forward LeBron James works between San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker, right, and Kawhi Leonard during the second half of Game 6 of the NBA Finals basketball series in Miami on June 19. The Miami Heat won 103-100 in overtime. Photo by Wilfredo Lee, The Associated Press, file

10. HEAT TITLE: One more free throw or one more defensive rebound, and the San Antonio Spurs prevent Miami from repeating as champion. Instead, Ray Allen made one of the biggest shots in NBA Finals history, knocking down a second-chance 3-pointer with 5 seconds left to send Game 6 to overtime. The Heat won in the extra period and again in Game 7 to give LeBron James another title.


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