Of all the massive amounts of sports competitions, tournaments and events out there, none get more eyes than the Olympics. For example, the last Super Bowl got about 167 Million U.S viewers as well as a few million from elsewhere. Compare that to the 3.6 Billion or so people that watched the Olympics and you see how huge of an event it is. And with the event being so huge, the scandals that come out of the Olympics are also massive and you simply won’t believe some of the things that people have done. Read on and find out.
#18 The Black Power Salute in 1968
During the 1968 Olympic games in Mexico, the American Civil Rights Movement was in full swing. After Tommie Smith and John Carlos were on the podium following their gold and bronze medals in the 200M, they performed the black power salute which, at the time, most people associated with extremism and violence. You may have remembered this next one from back in 2000…
#17 Romanian Doping Scandal in 2000
Now while most scandals are purposely done, this one appears to be an accident. Or so many believe. When Romanian gymnast Andreea Raducan got a cold during the 2000 Olympics, her coach gave her a nasal decongestant. But as it turned out, the decongestant was in the amphetamine category and she failed her drug test. Because a clear nose is an Olympic violation apparently.
#16 Ben Johnson Caught Cheating in 1988
Ben Johnson shocked the world when he won the gold medal in the 100M dash in world record time at the Olympics in 1988. However, only three days after the race, he tested positive for steroids. And unfortunately, he wasn’t the only famous runner to be popped for steroids, as you’ll find out at the number 1o spot.
#15 Decker vs. Budd in 1984
This famous incident took place in the 1984 Olympics. During the 3000M race, Mary Decker of the USA collided with Zola Budd of South Africa, which caused Decker to fall and lose the race. They each blamed each other for the collision and no one has ever taken the blame for it. This next you probably won’t remember…
#14 The Halswelle Scandal in 1908
Way back in 1908, an American runner was disqualified for blocking British runner Wyndham Halswelle, even though the move was legal in the USA (just not in Britain). A re-run was called, but the other races were American and sat out in protest, so Halswelle ran the race alone and won. While this was among the earliest Olympic scandals in history, number 13 is another that happened many moons ago.
#13 Boxing Scandal in 1988
The 1988 Olympics in Seoul was home to one of the biggest scandals in history. Roy Jones Jr. landed almost three times as many punches as his South Korean opponent but still lost. He lost because three of the judges were bribed by South Korean officials. This is also not the only time judges have been bribed or coerced into making false decisions, as evidenced by the scandal in our number 16 spot.
#12 The Tonya Harding Scandal in 1994
Out of all the scandals that appear throughout this list, this one might just be the one that got the most publicity. That is because it is one of the only times where an Olympian has intentionally hired someone to injure another Olympian when Harding injured Nancy Kerrigan. Harding will never be able to shake this label of being a cheater.
#11 Michael Phelps Marijuana Scandal in 2009
There is almost no arguing that Micheal Phelps is the best Olympian in history. He has over 20 Gold medals which is well over double the next best person. But in 2009, his reputation took a big hit when pictures came out of him smoking some marijuana from a bong. This next guy you probably have heard a ton about…
#10 Lance Armstrong Doping in 2000
Despite his immense performance in the Tour De France, Armstrong only won one Olympic medal, a bronze in 2000. He was the focus of numerous doping investigations but never got caught. But finally, in 2012, it was revealed he had been cheating throughout his career, including at the Olympics when he won.
#9 Marian Jones Caught Cheating in 2000
Marian Jones was without a doubt the most famous and talented female Olympic sprinter in her time. She was unstoppable in Women’s sprinting and won three gold medals and two bronze medals at the 2000 Olympics. But soon after, she tested positive and one of the best American female athletes in history was proven to be a cheater.
#8 Salt Lake City Bribery in 2002
There was a massive scandal surrounding Salt Lake City’s winning bid for the 2002 Winter Olympics. After numerous failed attempts to get the Olympics, officials went to a brand new low. They ended up bribing IOC officials with millions and millions of dollars to make sure they got it.
#7 The Russian Doping Scandal of 2016
Doping has been an issue at the Olympics for decades, but rarely have we seen a team affected by a doping scandal like the Russians this year. Of the 389 athletes they submitted, only 278 were cleared. But this wasn’t the only major scandal that took place at the Rio 2016 Olympics, read ahead to the final entry to see another.
#6 The Swimming Scandal of 1960
While not as old as the Halswelle Scandal, this one happened over half a century ago. In a time where there was no automatic video review of the end of swim events, it was often hard to judge the winners and losers. Lance Larson of the USA and John Devitt of Austrailia touched the wall at the same time, but after a day of deliberation, they still gave the win to the wrong man as Larson touched first.
#5 Badminton Teams Throwing Games in 2012
While badminton rarely gets headlines at the Olympics, it did in 2012. This is because four different teams were found to have been throwing their games (intentionally losing). They were doing this because they thought it would help them play weaker teams in the next round, but throwing games is against the rules.
#4 Angel Matos Kicks a Referee in 2008
This is probably one of the single most despicable acts ever caught on film in a sporting event. After being disqualified from the bronze medal match at the 2008 Olympics, Matos was visibly upset and went on to kick the referee right in the face, which led to him being banned from the World Taekwondo Federation for life.
#3 Russian Figure Skating Judging Scandal in 2002
As we have found out over the years, judging in the Olympics has not always been the best. In this event, Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier ran a nearly perfect run but still finished second. After review, the competition was fixed for the Russian teams to win, but the Canadian duo was still given a cold after the scandal broke.
#2 The Stella Walsh Scandal of 1932 and 1936
This happened back in the 30s and was one of the biggest sports stories of the time. Walsh had won gold in the 100M in 1932 but finished second in 1936. Her fans claimed her opponent was a man as no female could beat her. But as it turned out during an autopsy after her death, Walsh actually had a Y chromosome and was transgendered.
#1 American Swimmers in Rio 2016
This is definitely perhaps the most buzzworthy thing that happened in the Rio Olympic games. Ryan Lochte and some other swimmers made claims they were robbed at gunpoint in Rio. But after some questions arose, it was revealed that not only did they lie about the robbery, but they had actually been the opposite of a victim as they vandalized a gas station.
So as you can see, there have been some scandals that have come out of the Olympics that have shaken the sports and pop culture worlds to the core for weeks and weeks at a time. Despite some of these happening many years and even decades ago, they are still talked about today and that will continue to happen for years to come. As long as winning at the Olympics still matters, there will be those who try to cheat and bend the rules in any way they can to end out on the top of that podium, no doubt.