Olympic Scandals That Rocked The World And Will Never Be Forgotten
Since its inception in 1896, the Olympic Games have always shone the biggest spotlight on some of the most gifted athletes in the world, their agonizing defeats, and miraculous victories. But sometimes the Games have brought controversy that has tainted and overshadowed the accomplishments of the competitors.
We’re going to take a look at the 14 biggest moments that sent shockwaves through the Games, some of them for decades.
Let’s get started with a pretty recent one!
Ryan Lochte’s Rio Robbery
12-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte, representing America, managed to give himself a bad name when he lied about being robbed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during the 2016 Summer Olympics. In reality, he and some other athletes were in trouble for vandalizing a bathroom while being drunk. He was quickly suspended from swimming for 10 months and lost endorsement deals with Speedo, Ralph Lauren, and Syneron Candela. For those that wanted the athlete to pay more for his actions, it didn’t look like it was bound to happen any time soon with his appearance on the hit ABC series “Dancing with the Stars.”
Ben Johnson Banned For Life
Jamaican sprinter Ben Johnson managed to set a world record when he ran the 100-meter dash in 9.79 seconds at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. Unfortunately, he was caught using stanozolol, and he managed to be stripped of his world records and his Olympic and World Championship medals. When his suspension ended in 1991, he tried to make a comeback. In 1993, he would go on to win the 50 metres race in Grenoble, France, but he was caught doping again, which led to him being banned for life by the International Association of Athletics Federations.
The Collision On The Race Track
At the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California, there was a lot of talk about American runner Mary Decker winning the gold medal at the 3000 meters run. Unfortunately for Decker, a similar amount of talk across the pond supported Great Britain runner Zola Budd winning the medal. For a few laps, Budd, who was running barefoot, was side by side with Decker until the American runner decided to collide into her as a form of pressure. Romania’s Maricica Puica would go on to win the gold medal instead. In 2016, Decker and Budd reunited for a documentary about the incident called “The Fall.”
Tonya & Nancy
Americans Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding had an intense rivalry on the ice, and things went to the next level when Kerrigan was assaulted with a police baton by Shane Stant, who was working for Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly. The incident forced the Stoneham, Massachusetts native to sit out of the U.S. Championships, but she did make a comeback at the 1994 Winter Olympics. As for Harding, the Portland, Oregon native pled guilty and received a lifetime ban from the U.S. Figure Skating Association. The incident became the subject of the 1994 TV film “Tonya & Nancy: The Inside Story.”
Win By Walkover
At the 1908 Summer Olympics held in London, British athlete Wyndham Halswelle was ready to win the 400m race until he ran into American runner John Carpenter. Carpenter proceeded to block Halswelle’s path. In American races it was legal to do this, but, unfortunately the same couldn’t be said for races in Britain. This caused Carpenter to be banned from the race, which was restarted two days later. Since Carpenter couldn’t race, the other two Americans dropped out of the race, which led to Halswelle being the only one one the racetrack. This was the first (and only) time that the gold medal was handed out via walkover. Embarrassed by the situation, Halswelle retired after the race.
Romanian Andreea Răducan was only 16 years old when she competed in gymnastics at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She would go on to win the gold medal for the all-around title, but she was stripped of it two days later due to doping. She wasn’t a drug user at all; her cold medicine featured pseudoephedrine, which was a substance banned from the Olympics. The doctor that gave her the medicine was banned for two Olympic cycles. In 2002, she retired from gymnastics and began working as a sports announcer for EuroSport. In 2013, she released a book about the situation titled “The Other Side of the Medal.”
At the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California, track and field athlete Madeline de Jesús, representing Puerto Rico, managed to hurt herself on the long jump. Her twin sister Margaret de Jesús, who happened to be in the area at the right time, figured it would be beneficial to her quest for Olympic gold if she took her spot in the qualifying heat. The switch took place, and the team advanced. All good things came to an end when the coach found out about the swap. Angered with the situation, he pulled the entire team out of the final.
Marion Jones Stripped Of Medals
At the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, American athlete Marion Jones won three gold medals and two bronze medals. Everything was going great for her, but the Los Angeles, California native was hiding something. In 2007, she admitted to lying to federal agents about taking steroids before heading to the Olympics. She was sentenced to spend six months in jail, and she was stripped of all five Olympic medals. After being released from jail on September 5, 2008, Jones signed with the Tulsa Shock nearly two years later. She would play with them for one season before being waived on July 21, 2011.
One Blade Backflip
French figure skater Surya Bonaly won numerous medals at competitions such as the European Championships and World Junior Championships before making her way to the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. When she couldn’t do her routine properly because of an injury, she decided to go all out with a backflip landing on one blade. The move is very illegal to do in competition, and the judges deducted points from her score. Bonaly wasn’t upset with the overall score, which had her finishing in 10th place. She became the first (and only) person to accomplish the one footed backflip. She would retire from competition after the event.
2002 Winter Olympic Bid Scandal
Before Salt Lake City got to host the 2002 Winter Olympics, they tried four other times and saw failure. Things were looking bright when they were announced as the host back in 1995, but a few years later, reports of members from the International Olympic Committee taking bribes from Salt Lake Organizing Committee members co-heads Tom Welch and Dave Johnson began to surface. Many people were forced to resign because of this scandal. Future presidential nominee Mitt Romney was hired as the new CEO of the SLOC, and he helped raise money to help rescue the games from the situation.
Jim Thorpe’s Olympic Blunder
Jim Thorpe is considered by many to be the greatest athlete in the 20th century, but an incident at the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden left a bad taste in his mouth. Representing America, the athlete won gold in pentathlon and decathlon. Unfortunately for Thorpe, who played baseball in Eastern Carolina League prior to the games, it is illegal to play professional sports and compete in the Olympics. Because of this rule, Thorpe had to be stripped of his two medals. In 1983, the International Olympic Committee restored his gold medals thanks to the Jim Thorpe Foundation, which was founded by Robert Wheeler and Florence Ridlon.
When you think of controversy at the Olympics, women’s badminton would probably be the last sport that would come across with any sort of problem. That was the case at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Two teams from South Korea, one from Indonesia and one from China thought that it would be a clever idea to throw matches at the badminton doubles in order to play a weaker team in the following round. Unfortunately, the Badminton World Federation decided to eject all eight players from the Olympic games. The team of Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei from China would go on to win the gold medal.
Kicks Being Thrown
Cuba’s Angel Matos won a gold medal in taekwondo at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. He tried to go for the gold again at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China but he was disqualified after not returning to the mat after a time out. As if he couldn’t have made the situation worse for himself, Matos kicked referee Chakir Chelbat in the face, pushed a judge, and spit on the floor. Without any hesitation, the World Taekwondo Federation, one of the biggest martial arts organizations in the world, banned Matos and his coach Leudis Gonzalez from all WTF-sanctioned events for life.