Most disliked athlete Lance Armstrong Manti Te'o Neo Nielsen - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Poll: Armstrong edges Te'o as "most disliked" athlete

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The King of Cycling has fallen... and fallen hard.  In a new poll, former cyclist Lance Armstrong has been named the "most disliked" athlete.  The veteran cyclist barely edges out a college football standout who was caught up in a fake girlfriend hoax.

Armstrong and University of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o lead the 2013 list of America's Most Disliked Athletes, based on the latest public surveys from Nielsen Sports and market research firm E-Poll.

The latest poll shows Te'o and Armstrong tied with only 15% approval ratings, but since Armstrong has more name recognition he took the top spot.

Lance Armstrong took part in nearly 20 years of professional racing and won seven Tour de France championships before he became America's most disliked athlete.

"The Oprah interview [where he confessed to doping] hurt him, he came off as pompous, arrogant and unapologetic," says Stephen Master, senior vice president of sports at Nielsen.

Then there's Te'o, the Notre Dame linebacker and Heisman Trophy runner-up who became a household name as he led his team to a 12-0 regular-season record and a spot in the BCS National Championship game.

Then after Notre Dame's National Championship game loss to Alabama, Deadspin revealed that the girlfriend he was grieving over didn't actually exist. She was the product of an online hoax, complete with fake photos and a fake voice on the phone.

And his plunge was seemingly overnight.  His ranking ahead of the hoax reveal was at 88% before plummeting to just 15% a month later.

"The story was just so creepy," Master says. "And even when he knew he'd been duped he stuck with the story for awhile, and he'd told people he had met the woman in person."

Here's how the top ten list breaks down, according to the poll:

10. Tony Romo (Quarterback, Dallas Cowboys)
9. Kobe Bryant (Guard, Los Angeles Lakers)
8. Kurt Busch (NASCAR Driver)
7. Michael Vick (Quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles)
6. Alex Rodriguez (Third Baseman, New York Yankees)
5. Metta World Peace (Forward, Los Angeles Lakers)
4. Jay Cutler (Quarterback, Chicago Bears)
3. Tiger Woods (Golfer)
2. Manti Te'o (Linebacker, University of Notre Dame)
1. Lance Armstrong (Cyclist)

Armstrong, Te'o, Peace, Romo and Cutler are all new to the 2013 list.

Vick - last year's number one most disliked - dropped to number seven this year.

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