EA Sports president Peter Moore has sought to explain why boxer Mike Tyson, a convicted rapist, was chosen to appear alongside Mohammed Ali on the cover of Fight Night Round 4.
Moore, speaking to Eurogamer in London last week, admitted that he had to make "hard choices" in relation to the talent the company chooses to work with, explaining: "I actually made that decision because of the respect I have for Mike Tyson as a boxer."
He added: "He is on the cover of Fight Night Round 4 because he's one of the greatest boxers of all time. He's on the cover because what our fans have told us and the feedback we got since Fight Night Round 3 is, what is the ultimate boxing match you would want to see if you could take a fighter in his prime versus another fighter in his prime? And overwhelmingly it's Iron Mike Tyson - the Mike Tyson I remember as a kid out of New York - versus Mohammed Ali in his prime."
Moore acknowledged that Tyson's criminal past presented a problem, insisting: "I fully understand people's issues with that and you know, the challenge you have with athletes is that they're human beings and you look at what you do, and you make some hard choices."
Tyson was convicted of the rape of Desiree Washington in 1992, serving three years in prison, before making a comeback in 1995 and spending another 10 years in the ring. The cover art to Fight Night Round 4 depicts Tyson in his '80s heyday as world champion.
Asked whether there was anything that would preclude a top sports star from being considered as an EA Sports cover athlete, for instance, a record as a drugs cheat, Moore cited the complex nature of the issue, using baseball as an example.
"There's a period where performance-enhancing drugs were not tested for, or the testing was kept private and so there is clearly a large percentage of baseball players from a particular era that used performance-enhancing drugs," he said.
"And many of them have been exposed, some of them have admitted to it, and it's really difficult to pick through all of that. Athletes are human beings. You look at some of the decisions we have to make and they're not easy to make, so it's a case-by-case situation for us."
Fight Night Round 4 is coming to PS3 and Xbox 360 on 26th June, with a demo - featuring Brit brawler Ricky Hatton - due pre-release.