Olympics history: Biggest cheating scandals in the Olympics

In the quest for an Olympic medal, some athletes have unleashed a bizarre range of tricks besides doping charges and controversies. Here’s a look at the biggest cheating controversies in Olympics history.

The 1988 100-metre sprint was termed the 'dirtiest race' in Olympics history.   -  GETTY IMAGES

From epoch-making performances by the greatest athletes to a certain few who altered the course of the Games by tarnishing the ethics of sport, the modern Olympics Games has seen it all.

In the quest for an Olympic medal, a few athletes have unleashed a bizarre range of tricks besides doping charges and controversies, here’s a look at the biggest cheating controversies in Olympics history:

1904 - Fred Lorz and a crazy marathon finish

American long-distance runner Fred Lorz finished the 1904 Games marathon as the leading runner, clocking a time well ahead of the second-placed Thomas Hicks who also made the finish-line with sheer luck. In a gruelling race that began in torrid conditions, Lorz stepped off the 24.85-mile circuit after a distance of 9 miles before hitchhiking a ride back to the stadium towards the finish line.

Lorz, however, was forced to step back at the 19-mile after his cheeky ride came to an abysmal end. The American’s deception came to a quick stop after officials found Lorz guilty for a breezy car drive while waving out to fans and fellow runners on the way to the finish. A year’s ban fell in place before Lorz returned after apologising for his actions.

READ: What are the three Olympic values?

1960: Act of desperation

The Tunisian pentathlon team at the 1960 Rome Olympics would have been dubbed 'unlucky' had they chosen to face their streak of mishaps with grace. Their equestrian segment had everyone falling off their horses, a swimmer later escaped death by drowning, and a shooter from the squad blew away a judge, almost!

In an act of desperation to quash the bizarre run of play, the Tunisians sent their best fencer for every round of the individual fencing event, hoping the thick headgear would seal their deal. However, the judges were quick to spot the same man popping up for three rounds straight, and the flawed attempt soon resulted in disqualification.

ALSO READ: What do the Olympic rings signify?

1976: East Germany’s ‘doped’ gold fest

East Germany was no superpower by any means at the Olympics stage. However, a dramatic overhaul occurred at the Montreal Games in 1976. With 40 gold medals - its women dominating 11 of 13 swimming events - East Germany’s rise was celebrated until the reunification of Germany in the early 1990s.

A state-driven doping program was then unearthed to mar its famed Olympics success. The steroid-laced experiment also proved harmful to the athletes who were put to the test - mostly unaware of the state’s intentions - triggering multiple medical consequences over the passing decades.

ALSO READ: What is the Olympic Oath and what does it signify?

1976: Onischenko’s sword blip

Three-time Olympic pentathlon medallist Boris Onischenko’s pursuit for an elusive gold ended in tatters at the 1976 Montreal Games. Onischenko’s Soviet team was lagging at fourth in the pentathlon before the fencing event. An expert and successful fencer himself, Onischenko decided to cash in on the one-touch epee event with a ‘modified’ sword that would allow him to press a button to register a false hit despite falling short of his British opponent’s body. 

The British team protested, and a closer examination exposed Onischenko’s tainted sword. The 39-year-old received a lifetime ban while Britain won the gold medal.

ALSO READ: Why do Olympians bite their medals?

1984: Jesus’ double whammy

In one of the most bizarre events to unfold at the Olympic stage, Puerto Rican twins Madeline and Margaret de Jesus managed to deceive everyone, but not their coach. 

Madeline was set to compete in two events - the long jump and the 4*400 relay. A bad fall during the long jump injured Madeline, and with their relay side resting its hopes on her, she decided to send her twin Margaret for the sprint. Margaret helped the side progress to the next round without a whiff of doubt cast anywhere. The de Jesus twins’ sinister ploy, however, was found by one of the Puerto Rican coaches who evicted the entire side from the competition. The sisters were then sent away on a lifetime ban.

ALSO READ: When have the Olympic Games not been held on schedule?

1988: Ben Johnson’s 100-metre crash

Two-time Olympic bronze medallist Ben Johnson headed into the 1988 Seoul Olympics with the title of being the fastest man of that season. It seemed no surprise when the Canadian sprinter pipped the rest for his first gold medal in the 100-m sprint.

Johnson’s glory was, however, short-lived as he tested positive for the usage of banned steroids soon after. Johnson admitted to have used the substances in 1987 and the IOC quickly proceeded to hand his medal to silver-medallist Carl Lewis, who himself had evaded suspension ahead of the Games after being found to use banned stimulants.

ALSO READ: Olympic history: What is the Black Power Salute?

2000: Marion’s steep fall

US sprinter Marion Jones’ had a stellar run at the 2000 Sydney Games, winning three gold and bronze medals. However, her performances swiftly came under the scanner after her then-husband and shot-putter CJ Hunter tested positive for steroids.

Marion Jones poses after winning the 100-m sprint at the 2000 Sydney Games.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Jones’ life in denial of wrongdoings finally ended in 2007 when she admitted to steroid usage ahead of the 2000 Olympics. Marion was stripped of all five Olympic medals besides three world championship medals from 2001.

2012: Badminton’s 'bad' track

The 2012 London Olympics witnessed the introduction of the round-format in badminton with a distasteful week of matches to follow. The group stage fixtures that were played at the Games had eight women’s players (two pairs from South Korea, one each from China and Indonesia) playing a tad too slow given the big stage.

With the drab performances receiving jeers from spectators, the players were expelled for match-fixing after the Badminton World Federation found them guilty of not striving for a win in their contests.

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :