The Olympics aren't older than dirt, but they are pretty old, having started in ancient Greece in the 8th century BC. Almost as old? Controversy at the Olympic Games. For an international happening with the name "Games" in the title, you might be surprised at just how many scandals occur during the events. Unless, of course, you actually watch the Olympic Games every two years. Then you already know the scandals are almost as ubiquitous as the medals. Here are 8 of the biggest Olympic scandals since the early 20th century.
Runner loses medal after ... not running
1. Runner loses medal after . . . not running
The 1904 Summer Olympic Games in St. Louis, Missouri, were notable initially because they were supposed to take place in Chicago and because tensions in the Russo-Japanese War kept some top competitors from traveling to the United States. But the booby prize news items of the Games went to Fred Lorz, who quit running the marathon nine miles into it and caught a ride with his manager, until which time the car broke down 11 miles later. So Lorz walked the rest of the race to the Olympic stadium and crossed the finish line a winner. Unfortunately for him, too many eyewitnesses saw he didn't run the race, forcing him to 'fess up, although he claimed it was a practical joke.
Guns and alcohol don't mix
2. Guns and alcohol don't mix, especially at the Olympics
Swedish pentathlete Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall and his teammates were the proud recipients of bronze medals at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, but their pride was short-lived. Liljenwall got hit with dirty drug test results and he copped to drinking two beers before the pistol shooting portion of the event. As a result, eventually the Swedish team had to give back their medals.
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Sisters who might have been brothers
3. The sisters who just might have been brothers
Not all women athletes are lightweight and dainty (see: Coach Beiste from Glee), but some might just not be women at all. Irina and Tamara Press of Russia were awarded five gold and one silver medal in track and field between the 1960 games in Rome and the 1964 games in Tokyo. There was buzz that their large, manly figures were strong indications they were, in fact, men. When they were actually accused of playing for the wrong team - literally - they retired from sports.
Pay no attention to the heaters on the sled
4. Pay no attention to the heaters on the sled
Ortun Enderlein was an East German luger who won the gold medal at the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. She didn't fare so well four years later at the Games in Grenoble, France; she was disqualified along with her teammates after it was discovered they were using illegally heated runners to help guide the luge on the ice track. She was forced to give up her gold medal and silver medals to a West German athlete.
Is Utah really that bad?
5. Is Utah really that bad?
Surely Utah is just a good a location for the Olympics as any other state or country. But it appears as if the International Olympic Committee really needed some convincing to step foot in Salt Lake City. Some of the voting members took large cash bribes in return for naming Utah's capital as the host for the 2002 Winter Olympics, which resulted in the dismissal of 12 members of the committee. Utah still won out in the end, but really just because it was too late at the time of the discovery to switch venues.
Tonya Harding, Nancy Kerrigan and the Clubbing Seen 'Round the World
6. Tonya Harding, Nancy Kerrigan and the Clubbing Seen 'Round the World
U.S. figure skater Nancy Kerrigan had her eye on the gold prize in 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics. But seven weeks before she got there, she was attacked with a police baton to her right knee by an associate of her main rival, Tonya Harding. Kerrigan's injury forced her to withdraw from the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, although even her competitors didn't argue that she earned a spot on the Olympic team. She went on to win a silver medal in Norway, while Harding - who had asked her ex-husband to arrange for the attack on Kerrigan - came in a paltry eighth after mumbling about and then stumbling because of a broken skate lace.
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U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-…No Way!
7. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-…No Way!
The gold medal was within reach of the USA men's basketball team at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany. As in, they were thisclose to winning against the Soviet Union. There were just three seconds left on the clock with the USA leading by a point when the Soviet assistant coach called a timeout. Chaos ensued - the Soviets tried to run a play for the win, but missed and Team USA started celebrating. That is, until it was announced the game clock wasn't properly reset so the Soviets go another do-over, at which time they scored and won. Team USA refused to collect their silver medals, which still live in a vault in Switzerland.
Fancy lighting does not make for effective fencing
8. Fancy lighting does not make for effective fencing
The British pentathlon team thought something was up at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, when Boris Onischenko, a member of the Soviet Union's pentathlon team, appeared to be scoring by not actually scoring. That is, the light that went off whenever his épée made contact with his opponent was going off even when he wasn't making any contact. As it turns out, upon closer examination of Onischenkio's sword, it was revealed had illegally modified it to trigger the light at will. He went on to win the bout handily using a non-trick sword, but he was later disqualified from the competition anyway.
- By Meredith Carroll
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