Top 10 Times Olympic Athletes Cheated



Top 10 Times Olympic Athletes Cheated

VOICE OVER: Julian McKenzie
This video proves that cheaters never prosper. For this list, we'll be looking at times that athletes or countries reportedly unfairly tipped the odds at the Olympics and Paralympics in their favour, but were eventually caught out. Our countdown includes Tonya Harding, Boris Onischenko, Russia's Doping Scandal, and more!

Top 10 Times Olympians Cheated

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Times Olympians Cheated.

For this list, we’ll be looking at times that athletes or countries reportedly unfairly tipped the odds at the Olympics and Paralympics in their favour, but were eventually caught out.

Did we miss any Olympic cheaters? Let us know in the comments below! .

#10: Tonya Harding

Lillehammer 1994

Here’s a story so dramatic, it inspired a film. Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan were on the same team, but still had an intense rivalry. Before the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Nancy Kerrigan was attacked by Shane Stant. He was contracted to break her knee by Shawn Eckhardt, an associate of Harding’s then-husband Jeff Gillooly. The goal was to make sure Nancy couldn’t compete so Tonya could claim gold at the Championships and at the Winter Olympics. Nancy recovered and won silver in the Winter Olympics, while Tonya placed 8th.

#9: South Korean Boxing Officials

Seoul 1988

Korean boxer Park Si-Hun impressively made it through the competition with an injured right hand! But for a medal, he was up against Roy Jones Jr., someone on a completely different level. The bout was tough, and Jones utterly dominated. Yet when the referee lifted the winner’s arm, it was Park’s, surprising everyone, even Park himself! It wasn’t proven at the time, but the decision was discovered to have been rigged. Future investigations discovered a tangled web of allegations that Korean boxing authorities had bribed judges to vote in their favour. Reportedly not knowing anything about the purported shenanigans, Park kept his medal and later became a boxing coach.

#8: Ben Johnson

Seoul 1988

Ben Johnson was a star in the 1980s, winning medals, breaking records and establishing himself as Canada’s premier sprinter. Johnson then won the 100 meter dash at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, but unfortunately, there was a dark truth behind his success. Despite denying rumours for years that he was on performance-enhancing drugs, his urine tested positive, which he later confirmed. It was later claimed that many athletes were using anabolic steroids at the time, and that Johnson just happened to get caught. He was stripped of his medals and world record, with many home supporters still wondering why he did it.

#7: Chinese, South Korean & Indonesian Badminton Teams

London 2012

Not giving your all during an Olympic competition is actually against the rules, as we found out at the 2012 London Olympics. During the group stages of the women's badminton doubles tournament, the event became surrounded with controversy as multiple teams were accused of not using their best efforts. Actually, they allegedly started to purposefully lose matches so they could get easier matchups for the knockout stage. It got ridiculous, with teams making basic errors that were uncommon in professional sport. The three teams were ejected from the competition for “conducting themselves in a way that was abusive and detrimental to the sport.”

#6: East Germany Luge Squad

Grenoble 1968

Named at the time as the “world’s most perfect female luger,” East Germany’s Enderlein was a favourite to win at the 1968 Winter Olympics in France. And she did win first place with surprising speed, as did her East German teammates, who won 2nd and 4th place. But something seemed off. An event supervisor tested the luge’s steel blades with snow, which supposedly “hissed and vapourised.” The officials concluded that the sleigh had been heated to melt the track’s ice and increase speed. The team was disqualified, but the incident has remained contentious, with some home officials claiming Enderlein’s innocence, with rumours of intrigue behind the allegations.

#5: Boris Onischenko

Montreal 1976

A world-class pentathlete, you’d think that the USSR’s Boris Onischenko might have been able to win through skill alone. But it seems Boris wanted to be certain of victory. During his fencing bout against the British contender Jim Fox, the Brits noticed something was off. Boris was getting points without even touching his opponent. In electric épée fencing, a point is registered when the tip of the weapon is depressed with enough force to complete an electric circuit. However, his modified weapon had a switch on the blade that would complete the circuit without making contact, meaning he just had to make it look convincing. Once he was found out, his peers shunned him, he was stripped of his awards and he was given a life-time ban.

#4: Madeline de Jesús

Los Angeles 1984

Puerto Rican athlete Madeline De Jesus was competing in multiple events, but pulled her hamstring during the long jump. So instead of sacrificing the opportunity to compete in the 4x400 relay, she came up with something out of a movie plot. Margaret, her identical twin sister who was also an athlete, would swap outfits with her, allowing Margaret to compete in her place and no one would be the wiser. And it worked... until Madeline’s coach found out, and instead of going along with the ruse, he pulled the entire team from the event. Madeline and Margaret were banned from future international competitions, and their unknowing teammates also received a suspension.

#3: Fred Lorz

St. Louis 1904

Here’s another wacky one. During the 1904 Summer Olympics, Frederick Lorz was competing in the marathon. He ran the first 9 miles, but stopped from exhaustion. That's when his manager decided to give him a helping hand. Fred was driven the next eleven miles of the marathon, after which he continued on foot into the Olympic Stadium and was greeted as the winner. Fred obviously knew this was pure cheating, but went along with it anyway, purportedly as a joke. He later confessed what had happened, and another runner was awarded the medal. Amazingly, a similar situation happened earlier in 1896, when the Greek marathoner Spyridon Belokas rode in a horse-drawn carriage for part of the race.

#2: Russia’s Doping Scandal

Sochi 2014

It’s one thing for an athlete to cheat, but for an entire country to allegedly sponsor the cheating is quite another! During the 1976 Montreal Olympics, the East Germany Women's team learned that they had been secretly drugged to improve their performance during their management. That’s appalling, but not even the most recent! After the 2014 Winter Olympics, a Russian state-sponsored doping scandal came to light, with many of their athletes actively participating in taking performance-enhancing drugs and attempting to hide that fact from screenings. Once discovered, Russia as a whole was temporarily banned from future Olympic games.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few dishonorable mentions.

Emperor Nero, Greece 67 C.E.
Being Emperor Doesn’t Mean You Can Cheat

Chinese Gymnastics Team, Sydney 2000
Team Forced Dong Fangxiao to Compete While Underage

Liverpool Police Team, London 1908
Using Extra-Heavy Boots During Tug of War Competition

#1: Spanish Paralympics Basketball Team

Sydney 2000

This scandal is so jaw-dropping, you’ll wonder how anyone could let it happen. During the 2000 Sydney Paralympics, there was more concern for doping than finding out if athletes were actually legitimate Paralympians, So Fernando Martin Vicente, the head of the Spanish Federation of Sports People with Intellectual Disabilities, had an idea. A terrible idea. The team recruited players who faked having an intellectual disability. They went on to win gold by a huge margin, and Spain celebrated! But... one of the players was an investigative journalist. Carlos Ribagorda blew the whistle on the entire scheme. The team was disqualified and Vicente resigned.