Because everyone loves a scandal here’s some to kick off this season’s Olympic games…
1912 Jim Thorpe’s Disqualification and Hugo Wieslander’s Altruistic Gesture
In 1912 Olympians had to be amateurs. No professionals were allowed to compete. Jim Thorpe competed and won the gold medals in both the decathlon and pentathlon. The decathlon is the track and field 2 day event. Typically the title of “World’s Greatest Athlete” goes to the winner of this event which is a 2 day event consisting of 100 meter race, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw, 400 meter race, 100 meter hurdles, long jump, shot put, high jump, 1500 meter race. Each event is scored individually and the scores are combined and the athlete with the highest score wins. At that time the pentathlon included events thought to be testing skills for a true soldier. The event included fencing, pistol shooting, freestyle swimming, show jumping on horseback and a cross country run. It was later discovered that Thorpe was a professional baseball player and even though the events that he won the gold medal in required an immense amount of training to prepare for, the board still stripped him of both of his gold medals. Therefore Hugo won both gold medals by default, however he felt like he didn’t earn the medals and as consequence refused to accept them. In 1983 it was ruled that Thorpe in fact did deserve both gold medals and the medals were awarded to his children because by that time Mr. Thorpe had already passed.
1936 Hitler and the Olympics
1936 Summer Olympics were hosted in Berlin. This was the aftermath of World War I. Hitler used hosting the Olympics as a theater production to show the world that not only did Germany survive WWI but they were thriving and still holding strong onto their white supremacy views. He had a new stadium, six gymnasiums and other arenas built to accommodate the throngs of people that attended. Hitler attempted to ban all Jews and Blacks from being able to participate in the Olympics; however when the countries had heard of Hitler’s demands one by one they threatened to withdrawal from the Olympics all together. Along with hiring an professional filmmaker to create a documentary on the 1936 Olympics titled the Olympia, Hitler had the Berlin police do a “clean up” of the city. The police was ordered to round up any gypsies and hold them in a Berlin-Marzahn concentration camp. To this Olympic event is was dramatic and full of political agendas is clearly an understatement.
1960 Press “Sisters” and Gender Verification
In the 1960 Summer Olympics the Press sisters won every female track and field event except the distance running events. It was rumored that they could possibly be hermaphrodites injecting male hormones into their bodies to give them superior strength and an advantage in the female events. Soon after gender verification was ruled mandatory and they Press sisters not only retired from sports, but disappeared altogether.
1968 Schranz and the Do Over
Jean-Claude Killy had a spectacular run that showcased a clean sweep of the skiing medals. The slalom ski event was done in undesirable visibility conditions. The slalom ski event is the conducted on a slope where competitors weave through a series of poles that create a “gate” and the fastest time wins. Mid run Austrian Karl Schranz stops and returns to the bottom of the slope. Schranz claims that a man dressed all in black distracted him from completing his event. The judges granted him an opportunity to a second run which resulted in him winning the event. On review of the footage Schranz missed a gate at the beginning of his second attempt and it was ruled that his second attempt was annulled. The medal went to Killy.
1994 Tonya Harding’s Attack on Nancy Kerrigan
Tonya Harding’s ice skating career has been for the most part a series of mishaps, wardrobe malfunctions mid routine, late arrivals, ovarian cyst on the verge of bursting, loose skate blade halting her performance and broken skate laces to name a few. The attack occurred at the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit. Shane Stant was hired by Harding’s bodyguard (Eckhardt) and Harding’s ex-husband (Gillooly) to break Nancy Kerrigan’s right leg. Unfortunately for Harding the attack was caught on tape. Stant’s attempt to break Nancy’s leg was unsuccessful. He merely just bruised the leg. Harding won the National Championship and both Kerrigan and Harding made the Olympic team. Later in the year Gillooly accepted a plea bargain in exchange for testimony against Harding. Harding plead guilty and served 3 years’ probation, community service and $160,000 fine. She forced to withdrawal from the 1994 World Figure Skating Championships and was banned from competing or coaching any USFSA ran events. Tonya tried to play on her notorious celebrity status to no avail. A honeymoon sex tape was leaked that she quickly tried to keep hidden along with attempts at celebrity boxing career. Harding’s career never recovered.
2000 Marion Jones and BALCO
In the 2000 Summer Olympics Marion Jones was the top competitor in women’s track and field. She took home medals in the 100 meters, 200 meters, long jump, 4×100 meter relay and the 4×400 meter relay race. In the heat of the investigation of Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) Jones admitted to using the performance enhancing supplements that were created by Victor Conte. Reports later linked as many as 20 top athletes including Giants slugger Barry Bonds, A’s Jeremy Giambi, boxer Shane Mosley, Raiders Bill Romanowski, Tyrone Wheatley and many others. As punishment her medals where taken away along with the rest of her team members that participated with her on the relay races. Part of the US Olympic Committee’s decision of taking her title wins; she was also banned from attending the 2008 Olympics. From there things just continued to get worse for Ms. Jones. She was found guilty in the check fraud scheme.
So there you go… 6 juicy stories about the Olympics. Enjoy the games… Go Team USA!