By Tom Degun

Diana Taurasi at London 2012January 13 - Diana Taurasi has been named the 2012 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year after helping take her side to victory at last year's Olympics in London, completing a remarkable change in her fortunes.

The 30-year-old from California took the prestigious prize after leading the USA women's basketball team to what was their fifth straight Olympic gold medal.

Taurasi averaged 12.4 points a game to guide the United States to an undefeated record in London 2012 as she picked up her third Olympic gold having also been part of the winning team in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.

Taurasi, who plays for the Phoenix Mercury in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), has now won the award three times, having also earning the honour before in 2006 and 2010 to equal Lisa Leslie.

Only four-time Olympic champion Teresa Edwards, who was Team USA Chef de Mission at the London 2012 Olympics, has won the award more times with four.

"Twelve years ago I wore my first USA jersey and the feeling of honour and excitement never diminishes," said Taurasi.

"I had the opportunity to learn from the best, play with the best and be coached by the best.

"This honour is very special because it is in recognition of everyone who has played for our county."

Diane Taurasi in action London 2012
Diana Taurasi was named the 2012 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year after taking her side to Olympic gold in London

Taurasi herself appeared in danger of missing London 2012 after the Turkish Doping Control Centre (TDCC) reported a positive doping test in 2011 involving the basketball star which allegedly showed traces of the banned substance modafinil.

But the test at the laboratory at Hacettepe University in Ankara turned out to be a false positive test and it was stripped of its accreditation in June 2011 by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), who only reinstated the accreditation at the end of last year.

Taurasi was cleared to play and subsequently spearheaded the USA gold medal charge at London 2012 which saw them defeat France in the final.

"USA Basketball is very proud to celebrate Diana's accomplishments in 2012 and we are grateful for all that she has done as a part of USA Basketball," said USA chief executive Jim Tooley.

"In capturing her third Olympic gold medal she was incredible to watch on the court and she was an absolute leader as well.

"Diana is one of the reasons the USA Women's National Team has maintained such excellence and captured five straight Olympic gold medals."

The USA Basketball Board of Directors is responsible for selecting USA Basketball's annual awards.

LeBron James, a member of the men's team that won the Olympic gold medal, won the male award.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
June 2011: Turkish lab in Taurasi scandal is stripped of accreditation by WADA
May 2011: Turkish lab in Taurasi scandal banned by WADA
January 2011: Taurasi facing two-year ban after B-sample positive
December 2010: Double Olympic gold medallist could miss London 2012 after positive drugs test