While some of the athletes practice day and night to make their dreams prosper and work hard to achieve their goals there are some of them who try the easier way out. But in the end destiny shows that cheaters can never prosper.
The Olympics is about “the true spirit of sportsmanship” and celebrates some of the finest and most prolific sportspeople of all time. Unfortunately, not all winners have got ahead the fair and legal way, as cheating in the Olympics is just about as old as the games itself. Below are just a few of the cheating scandals that have tarnished the Olympics.
1. Dora Ratjen: Berlin 1936.
Sports: Track and field.
Dora Ratjen came fourth in the women’s high jump at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, and broke the world high jump record in 1939 during the European Athletics Championships. There was just one problem, Dora was raised female, but was actually born a man. When officials found out, she was forced to return her medals, had her world record stripped, and changed her name to Heinrich.
2. Madeline De Jesus: Los Angeles, 1984.
Nationality: Puerto Rican.
Sports: Track and field
Madeline De Jesus suffered a hamstring injury during her long jump attempt at the Los Angeles Games. Fearing she couldn’t compete in the 4 x 400m relay in the next round, she thought of a plan.
Her twin sister, Margaret, was also an athlete and watched Madeline in the audience. The pair swapped places for the next round, giving the Puerto Rican team an advantage. When Madeline’s coach found out, he withdrew the entire team from the race.
3. Ben Johnson: Seoul, 1988.
Sport: Track and field.
Johnson won gold in the men’s 100-metre sprint, breaking a world record in the process. Unfortunately, he tested positive for steroids shortly after the race. Though he was stripped of his medal, he was allowed to compete in future until he was caught using again in 1993. After this, he was banned for life.
4. Marion Jones: Sydney, 2000.
Sport: Track and field.
Marion Jones had a successful year at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, winning two bronze and three gold medals. She became the first woman to win that many in the track and field categories in a single Games.
Jones denied using steroids, passing all her drug tests during the Olympics, but in 2007 admitted to using steroids well ahead of the Sydney Games.
She was stripped of her medals, slapped with a two-year ban from competing, and sentenced to six months in prison for lying to federal prosecutors investigating the use of performance-enhancing substances.
5. Tony André Hansen: Beijing, 2008.
Humans aren’t the only ones tested for illegal drugs at the Olympics. Horses competing in the equestrian events are also scrutinized, and at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing the horse Camiro, ridden by Norwegian Tony André Hansen, tested positive for capsaicin. Although commonly used for minor injuries in a topical ointment made from chili peppers, capsaicin can be a stimulant and is thus on the list of substances banned by the Olympics. Hansen and Camiro had won bronze in a show-jumping event but were stripped of the medal.
6. The South Korean, Indonesian and Chinese Badminton teams: London, 2012.
Nationality: Chinese, South Korean, Indonesian.
At the 2012 Olympics in London, a round-robin format was introduced for the first time in badminton, with less than stellar results. Four women’s teams—two from South Korea and one each from China and Indonesia—were expelled from the Games for match fixing. After lacklustre play that drew boos from spectators, the teams were accused of purposely trying to lose their matches in order to improve their draw in the next round. They were disqualified for “not using one’s best efforts to win.”
7. Tonya Harding: US, 1994.
Sports: Figure Skating.
Tonya Harding was a singles skater who is probably the most controversial figure skater in American history. She started skating at a local rink, and her athletic ability made her a great jumper, one of the best in women’s skating history.
Harding was fourth at the 1992 Winter Olympics and heading into the 1994 season, her big rival was Nancy Kerrigan, a much more polished, traditional skater, but one without Harding’s jumping ability.
Beautiful, quiet, and classy, Kerrigan started to reap the rewards of the more traditional skating world, and received several commercial endorsements. Harding was getting none of this and she saw one way out. To get endorsements and money, she had to win the gold medal in Lillehammer and to her that meant eliminating Kerrigan as a competitor.
At the time, Harding was then married to Jeff Gillooly. Tony’s husband hired a friend who agreed to attack Kerrigan and injure her leg. Shortly before the competition, Kerrigan came off the ice after a training session, when a large man assaulted her with a solid-metal baton, hitting her just above the knee. Kerrigan collapsed, crying out, “Why? Why me?” She could not skate at the Nationals.
After the 1994 fiasco, Harding’s life has been difficult. Ostracized and banned by the figure skating establishment she could never skate professionally. To make money, she became a professional boxer, with a career record of three wins and three losses in 2003-04, and later was an announcer for TruTV.
8. Park Si Hun: South Korea,1988.
At the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, South Korea’s Park Si-Hun “beat” Jones in a 3-2 decision to win the light-middleweight gold medal, thanks to three judges who, by all accounts, were bought off.
In the finals, Jones dominated Park, who was barely able to mount much of a defence, let alone a counterattack. And yet, three of the five judges still had Park ahead on points. When referee Aldo Leoni raised Park’s hand, he reportedly murmured to Jones, “I can’t believe they’re doing this to you.”
The International Boxing Association (AIBA) tried to do some damage control, awarding Jones the Val Barker Cup, which is given to the top boxer during the Olympics.
The three referees who had Park ahead were given an initial two-year suspension by AIBA and two were eventually kicked out of amateur boxing for life.
The scandal, widely considered one of the most egregious examples of match-fixing in Olympics history.
9. Ortrun Enderlein: Grenoble, 1968
Nationality: East Germany.
The East German women’s luge team were hugely successful at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble. Ortrun Enderlen won gold, while her teammates came in second and fourth. Fellow competitors became suspicious after the team would always turn up right before their round, and leave almost immediately after. As it turned out, the team were heating the rails of their sleds artificially just before the race, to reduce friction against the ice. The team was disqualified and returned its medals.
10. Michaelle Smith: Atlanta, 1996
Michelle Smith made history as the first Irish woman to win a gold medal in 1996, picking up three gold medals and a bronze medal at the Atlanta Games. It was later discovered that she’d used alcohol to tamper with her urine sample to avoid a positive result in her drug test. She was allowed to keep her medals.