(From left, Jamaica’s Asafa Powell, Nesta Carter, Usain Bolt and Michael Frater. Really, Nesta? You pointing at us?)
The glorious wreath of the Olympic ‘triple-treble’ (gold in 100m, 200m and 4×100m really in 2008, 2012, and 2016) adorning Usain Bolt’s head has been tipped off by an inglorious act of Nesta Carter. Nesta Carter who? Bolt’s team-mate from 4×100m relay in Beijing Olympics who was found guilty of using a banned substance (basically drug abuse) during the games. The Jamaican star sprinter will now have to hand over one of his nine gold medals to the concerned committee.
I’m pretty sure this won’t affect the sales at Nike, but it did break the hearts of sports fans.
However, athletes resorting to underhanded means to win a competition is far more common than one can imagine. And drug abuse is definitely the most boring way they do it- at least when compared to some of the wildly inventive alternatives wrought by Olympians in the past.
Here is a collection of the weirdest ones!
1. Spiridon Louis
Let’s go really back in time for the first one. Spiridon, an Olympic Marathon runner, achieved third place in the race in 1896, only to be disqualified when it was be discovered that he had completed part of it by horse and carriage. Since the first two winners were Greek, his disqualification deprived the host country from winning the top three prizes in the race.
2. Madeline and Margaret de Jesús
In a hoax more suited to Bollywood movies, Puerto Rican twins Madeline and Margaret de Jesús attempted to outsmart the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Suspicion arose when Madeline, who had hurt herself while competing in the long jump, was seen effortlessly running the 4×400 meter relay. The athlete had actually sometime in between these two events was replaced by her identical twin sister Margaret who had been waiting in the stands, to compete. Once the chief coach of the Puerto Rican Olympics team discovered what they’d done, he pulled out the entire team from the Olympics.
3. Tunisian modern pentathlon team
In the 1960 Rome Games the Tunisian modern pentathlon team had been bringing embarrassment from the start, including antics like an athlete almost drowning and then another disqualified from the shooting section because he accidentally almost shot a judge. In a literal bid to save ‘face’, during the fencing competition they simply sent their best fencer back for each part, hoping the fencing mask would be good enough a disguise. This attempt failed, and the entire team was thrown out of the games.
4. Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze
Although biased scoring won the two Russians gold in figure skating, the scandal has a French judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne at its centre who admitted to feeling “pressured” the head of the French skating organization, Didier Gailhaguet, to rate the Russian team higher. It was alleged that this was part of a deal to get an advantage for French competitors who were to compete few days later. Eventually, a second gold medal was awarded to the Canadian pair.
5. Match-Fixing in Badminton (China, South Korea, Indonesia)
In 2012, players from the China, South Korea, and Indonesia women’s league were disqualified from play because they were attempting to tank matches. Why were they trying to do that? Well, in China’s case, it was because if one Chinese team had won, they were positioned to play the other Chinese team, meaning they couldn’t win gold and silver. So, they tried to lose. South Korean and Indonesian opponents took inspiration and followed suit. The IOC was not pleased.
6. Boris Onischenko
In the 1976 Olympics, Ukranian Boris cheated using an epee tweaked with a device that hacked the scoreboard through a button that he could click to tally up his score without him actually touching his opponents weapon. His trick was exposed when the British team captain Jim Fox saw that Boris had scored a point without touching his opponent, resulting in his disqualified from the games and earning him the tag “Boris the cheat.”
7. The Tonya Harding scandal
Figure skater Tonya Harding caused a sensation in 1994 when she was caught in the scandal conspiring with her ex-husband a month before the Olympic games to injure Nancy Kerrigan – her strongest competitor – and force her out of competition. Hired grunt Shane Slant struck Kerrigan’s knee with a lead pipe, though not with enough force to actually break any bones. Kerrigan recovered and eventually won the silver medal.
8. The Blood in the Water Match of 1956
1956, Hungary was losing its sovereignty to the Soviet Union, which caused tensions to reach a boiling point during the Olympic games of that year. The Hungarian team aggressively and won against USSR 4–0, but the name was coined after Hungarian player Ervin Zádor emerged during the last two minutes with blood pouring from above his eye after being punched by Soviet player Valentin Prokopov. It would later turn out that both teams were also hiding sharp items in between their toes.
9. Ortlun Enderlein
East german luge athlete Ortrun Enderlein was part of the women’s luge team during the 1968 Grenoble games. Enderlein placed first winning gold while two of her team mates placed second and fourth. Other athletes became suspicious as the team would arrive just before the races and leave quickly after. It was discovered that the rails of their sleds were heated with chemicals right before the races which resulted in faster times by reducing friction with the ice. The three lugers were disqualified.
10. Dora Ratjen
Dora Ratjen won the women’s high jump record in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. There was just one slight problem, Dora was actually a man. Years later, Heinrich – the name he took up on being discovered -claimed that he was ordered by the Nazis to pose as a woman, “for the sake of the honour and glory of Germany.” He lived the life of a female athlete for three years.