Biggest Olympic Scandals in History: Cheating Then and Now

  • The biggest sporting event is where the biggest scandals happen
  • From doping through political conflicts and personal drama the Olympics saw a lot
  • Discover the biggest Olympic scandals
biggest Olympic scandals

In the history of the Olympic Games and in all competitive sporting events, scandals related to doping, cheating and discrimination pop up every year. Both the summer and winter games have experienced many controversial cases, leaving both the contestants and committee in an awkward situation. See some of the biggest Olympic scandals! 

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These days, it is quite difficult to get away with any cheating behaviour and the echo is likely to stay for a long time. Having postponed the 2020 summer games in Tokyo to a later date, we still have time to prepare for the summer games. Will we see some suspicious behaviour? This article will take a look at some of the biggest Olympic scandals in history, you will know what to watch out for! Unibet Sportsbook already offers country medal specials, so let us take a look at some previous scandals nations were involved in. 

What do we mean by the biggest Olympic scandals? 

Regardless of how big the Olympics is, cheating happens. Interestingly, from both sides. Organisations, athletes and the IOC all received accusations of cheating or mistreatment, we only hope that it gets better every year. Of course, we would immediately think of doping, yet racial discrimination, political problem, decisions by referees and even gestures made by athletes come up. The biggest Olympic scandals always break news, and will definitely stay as a stigma for a long time. Moreover, corruption scandals also used to be a major problem in the games. It is for sure a pity since these yearly scandals often take away the attention from all the incredible athletes and their hard work. Hence our goal is to support athletes and with the upcoming games, look out for online sportsbook promotions in the UK! Olympics betting is always full of opportunities, see  Unibet Sportsbook’s offers on your favourite teams.

The returner: Doping 

Doping is always amongst the biggest Olympic scandals each time. Most of the time, news appear with sprinters – understandably. Spring doping was a big thing in the mid-early 2000s, as we highlighted in a previous article. To take a quick overview, in 1967 the IOC banned the use of performance-enhancing drugs. They also instituted a Medical Commission and created a list of banned substances. Mandatory testing began at the following year’s Games.  Olympic athletes discovered early on that there are ways to improve their athletic performances by boosting testosterone. Hormone boosting became one of the most well-known doping techniques, and there are more to come. As methods became more and more extreme, it became clear that doping was not only a threat to the integrity of the game but to the athletes’ health too. Performance-enhancing drugs can have fatal side effects and have caused death even during the games. 

biggest Olympic scandals
Doping is an always returning problem

The protagonist in one of the biggest Olympic scandals was Russia. Due to their persistent doping schemes, the athletes’  ban will include this year’s Olympic Games. For several ongoing years, Russian athletes used performance-enhancing drugs systematically. It is even more shocking when we consider the age of some of the athletes. In 2000, the then 16-year-old Romanian gymnast, Andreea Raducan tested positive for pseudoephedrine. The young athlete received the pseudoephedrine in cold medication from a team doctor, which resulted in a suspension for the next two Olympic Games. Known for his historical cycle career, cancer survivor Lance Armstrong’s sporting career took a dark turn. After his first Tour de France in 1999, accusations came up. His seven Tour de France titles were revoked in 2012. After this, the IOC nullified the bronze medal Armstrong won for the men’s road time trial at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. 

Age problems amongst the biggest Olympic scandals

In 2000, the biggest Olympic scandal was related to the age of competitors on the Chinese gymnastics team. As IOC rules, athletes must be 16 to compete, Dong Fangxiao was only 14 at the time. China got accusations of age cheats many times. The competition between China and the US is always fierce in gymnastics, and the US is never hesitant to express concerns about the girls’ age. While illegal, there are several advantages for younger gymnasts. Young female gymnasts are lighters, more flexile and quite importantly, more fearless when it comes to executing very difficult manoeuvres. The advantages also reflect the problems, since, with children, the psychological stress might seem less, but it raises the question of exploitation and also long-term psychological difficulties. 

When politics gets involved 

In 1956, the USSR-Hungarian Waterpolo match was about a lot more than the actual game. As named later, the ‘Blood in the swimming pool’ match took place at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. The match took place on 6 December 1956 against the background of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and saw Hungary defeat the USSR 4–0. The Hungarian captain refused to shake hands with the Soviet captain and things only went downhill from then. Players started to viciously fight during the match as blood was emerging in the pool. The referee had to call the game off as it was turning into an actual riot. The game became known as a symbol of Hungary’s fight against the USSR, making the Hungarian team world-famous. 

Russia also had a problem with the United States. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter announced that the United States would boycott the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. This act was to protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In response, in 1984, the USSR boycotted the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Although they had their reasons, it was a pretty obvious response to the events in 1980. Olympic scandal or not, politics always have a way to interfere. 

biggest Olympic scandals
Politics will be the end of our society

Dishonourable mentions 

There is no excuse for racist acts under any circumstances. In 2008, the Spanish men’s and women’s basketball team got in serious trouble after striking a pose. Regardless of the intention, making slant-eyes when posing was a great offence for many Asians and became an Olympic scandal. 

Some Olympic scandals were big enough to inspire movies. In 1994, a fierce competition between figure-skater came to worldwide attention. Nancy Kerrigan was attacked with a “club-like instrument” after her routine, which put her at risk of missing that year’s Olympics. Later, they discovered that the attack was in fact planned by the also skater, Tanya Harding’s ex-husband. After the event, Harding got banned from the US figure skating association for life. Almost as if we don’t get enough excitement at the Games, Olympic scandals can get brutal. With the hope that the upcoming Games will be as fair as they can get, check out what online sportsbooks in the UK has to offer on the Olympics, and wager on your favourite athletes on Unibet Sportsbook

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