Olympic Cheats - In More Ways Than You Realize
You will know of many athletes accused of cheating at the Olympics by using performance enhancing drugs (e.g. Ben Johnson, Marion Jones, and many others). What you may not be aware of, is that there are many other ways athletes have found to cheat throughout the history of the Olympic Games. These are just the ones who have been caught.
For the 1908 Olympic tug-of-war competition, the Liverpool police team competed in "enormous shoes, so heavy, in fact, it was with great effort they could lift their feet from the ground.". The rules had stipulated ordinary shoes. The team from Liverpool insisted this was their regulation police footwear. The Americans protested, but to no avail and subsequently withdrew in protest.
Catching a lift
There are two well known instances in the Olympic marathon in which the athletes have not completed all of the course on foot. At the first Olympic marathon in 1896, Greek athlete Spiridon Belokas crossed the finish line in third place, but was later found to have covered part of the course by carriage rather than on foot, and was subsequently disqualified. In 1904, American Fred Lorz, stopped running nine minutes into the marathon event and caught a lift in a car part of the way. When officials realized, they immediately disqualified him, bumping up Thomas Hicks to the winning position.
You Can't Foil the Fencing Judges
In 1976, a very elaborate ruse was staged by Ukrainian athlete Boris Onischenko. For the fencing component of the modern pentathlon, he had wired his sword so that he could trigger the electronic scoring system with his hand and register a hit at will.
Not as They Seem
In the 1904 boxing competition, a fighter named James Bollinger entered under the name of popular local boxer Carroll Burton. The impostor succeeded in winning one match before he was found out and disqualified. Another competitor in the competition, American Jack Egan, was also fighting under a different name. The following year it was discovered Egan's real name was Frank Joseph Floyd. Egan was disqualified for competing under an assumed name and stripped of his silver medal.
There are a few examples of competitors in female events later being discovered to be genetically male, though these may not always be cases of purposeful deception. One instance from the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the German Dora Ratjen who finished fourth in the women's high jump was later found to be a man. Some have claimed that the Nazis ordered him to pose as a woman.
Olympic artistic gymnastics events have a strict age minimum. Chinese gymnasts have long been accused of fielding underage athletes, though only the case of gymnast Dong Fangxiao from the 2000 Summer Olympics has been proven. She won a bronze medal, but the award was stripped when she was later discovered to have competed underage.
At the 1984 Los Angeles Games, Puerto Rico's Madeline de Jesus was injured while competing in the long jump, and was unable to run in the 4×400-meter relay. So Madeline enlisted her identical twin sister to stand in for her in the qualifying heat. However, when the coach found out he pulled the team out of the final.
In 1960, the struggling Tunisian modern pentathlon team decided to secretly send out their best swordsman each time hidden behind the mask. However, the third time the same fencer came out the ruse was discovered.
Tricked by the Sound
In 1932, after winning the silver in equestrian dressage, Swedish equestrian Bertil Sandström was demoted to last for clicking to his horse to give it encouragement, which was against the rules. He asserted that it was a creaking saddle making the sounds.
Corrupt or Just Incompetent Officials?
The 1972 Olympic men's basketball final was one of the most controversial in Olympic history. The tournament favorites the USA had dominated the series, and with a score from the free-throw line in the final seconds went into the lead. What followed was confusion on and off the bench and on the scoring table, with the final three seconds being replayed a few times before the USSR were able to score and win the game. The protest on the legitimacy of the final plays was dismissed, and the US players refused to accept their medals.
At the 1988 Games in Seoul, in a highly controversial 3–2 judge's decision, South Korean boxer Park Si-Hun defeated American Roy Jones, Jr., despite an obvious one-sided affair with Jones landing 86 punches to Park's 32.
And More Olympic Cheats
- The Spanish basketball team at the 2000 Paralympics pretended to be disabled to win the gold medal.
- In 1968 the East German bobsleigh team were disqualified after being discovered taking a blow torch to their runners immediately before a race.