Athletics finds itself under a dark cloud as the year comes to an end.
Twelve months which should have delivered so much ended with the ugly shadow of drug abuse cast across the sport.
The chief culprit? Newly-discovered 'designer steroid' tetrahydrogestrinone (THG).
The substance, which did not show up under previous testing methods, was revealed this year when an anonymous coach passed a syringe containing THG to the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
A test was soon developed, and it became clear athletics had a major problem.
The frightening fact for the sport's chiefs is no-one yet knows how widespread the use of THG has become.
British sprint star Dwain Chambers and an as-yet unnamed American quartet have tested positive, but with samples from the Paris World Championship being re-analysed, more big names could follow.
It was not just THG - American Kelli White became the first American to complete a world sprint double, but was subsequently withdrawn from the 4x100m relay team after testing positive for modafinil.
She could lose both her medals, but has vowed to fight to clear her name.
Away from the drugs scandals, the year began promisingly for Britain as Birmingham hosted the World Indoor Championship.
Ashia Hansen in the triple jump, and Marlon Devonish in the 200m both took gold, and Kelly Holmes also managed an impressive silver in the 1500m.
As fine as those achievements were, however, it was Paula Radcliffe who made the headlines.
She continued to raise the standards for women's distance running, winning a third world half-marathon crown in October, weeks after setting a new world best for the distance in the Great North Run.
The highlight of her great year come in April on the streets of London.
Radcliffe was superlative, setting an astounding world-record time of two hours 15 minutes 25 seconds in the London Marathon - one minute 53 seconds better than her own previous record.
In August, Paris hosted a largely successful - if not spectacular - World Championship.
There were memorable races - Kenya's 18-year-old Eliud Kipchoge's display in eclipsing the legendary Hicham El Guerrouj to win the 5,000m was a classic - and the men's 3,000m steeplechase and 200m were equally exciting.
And Kim Collins was a popular, if not especially fast, 100m champion, ahead of Darrel Brown and Britain's Darren Campbell who took an unexpected bronze.
There was further controversy in the 100m, although thankfully not drug-related.
Jon Drummond's tantrum after being disqualified from the quarter-finals delayed proceedings for almost one hour.
It was not a great championship for Great Britain, but there were high points, notably Holmes, who won a fine silver behind Maria Mutola in the 800m.
Mozambique's Mutola had a superlative year, becoming the first athlete to win the $1m Golden League jackpot
Two British legends hung up their spikes in 2003, the first being 110m hurdles world record holder Colin Jackson.
Jackson retired after the World Indoor Championship in March, after 21 years in the sport.
And triple jump world record holder Jonathan Edwards called it a day after a disappointing showing in the final in Paris in August.