Sports Personality Of The Year: Can rivals overtake Wiggins?

Bradley Wiggins - unstoppable on a bike but can he win SPOTY?

It's been the best of times and the worst of times for British sport in 2012, says Ralph Ellis as he assesses the Sports Personality of the Year betting markets...

Murray is [1.37] for a place in the top three but won’t be at SPOTY.

It's hard to decide if 2012 will go down as the greatest year in sporting history, or the worst. Right now there doesn't seem anywhere in between. It's been the year of the Olympics, of the Paralympics, of a British Tour de France winner, of a British tennis Grand Slam winner. And that's before you think about 'ordinary' achievements like Rory McIlory winning the USPGA, or Carl Froch and Nathan Cleverly holding world boxing titles.

The first meetings of the BBC's judging panel have started to choose the shortlist for Sports Personality of the Year. They've expanded it to 12 names, but really it could have been 120. The BBC put the tickets on sale this morning, after moving the show to London's ExCel to find somewhere with enough room to fit everybody in. Even then, if you've not applied for one of the 15,000 seats, it may already be too late. Celebrities will be queuing round the block to get in, never mind the punters.

But then again it's been the year of Luis Suarez and John Terry, and now of Mark Clattenburg. The year of Kevin Pietersen's childish squabbles that helped cost England their place as the world's best Test team. And worst of all the Lance Armstrong scandal, the trashing of a hero who transcended his sport but has now been revealed as a squalid drugs cheat.

Armstrong's fall from the heights is perhaps the most tragic story. And with SPOTY in mind you just wonder how it might affect the way the sport of cycling is perceived when the public come to cast their votes.

I thought Bradley Wiggins was a certain SPOTY winner,and at the moment he is [1.87] favourite. His Tour triumph followed by Olympic gold were two immense achievements - and as a bonus he has also just found himself upgraded to third place in the 2009 Tour after Armstrong's result was wiped from the record books.

But could that be a double edged sword? Cycling's image, so wonderfully polished in the Velodrome at Stratford in the summer, has now become so deeply tarnished. The Armstrong story has sullied the whole sport, revealing as it has what seems like an entire peloton pumping EPO in their veins to get up the next mountain. Every day seems to bring another figure resignation from Team Sky because of their past involvement.

It's an issue Andy Murray has picked up on from Paris, where he plays his first match tomorrow in the BNP Paribas Masters (he's [3.4] second favourite to win it). Once an outspoken critic of being forced to undergo random drug tests at ungodly hours, he's now campaigning for more testing for more tennis players. He says it is the only way to protect the image of his sport. Amazingly he underwent only three tests in 2011, and none at all in 2010.

Murray is [1.37] for a place in the top three but won't be at SPOTY. The big event on December 16 falls right in the middle of his annual trip to Miami for gruelling pre-season fitness work. That will help him build on his US Open success, but will probably cost him some votes from the public who'd rather see him chatting to Clare Balding.

When the audience at home starts hitting the phone buttons to vote they will want to embrace the stars they see on screen, and to wallow in the year's good memories rather than the bad. It makes you wonder if either Mo Farah [6.0] or Jessica Ennis [11.5] could make a late sprint to the top prize.

Ralph Ellis,