Norwegian Volleyball Team Fined
During the 2020 Olympics, people were pretty angry when they read that a Norweigan handball team was fined for not wearing bikini bottoms during the competition. The European Handball Federation announced that it would be fining the Norwegian team for wearing spandex shorts instead of the mandated bikini bottoms. It would charge 150 Euros per player, meaning it would be charged 1,500 Euros.
While men are perfectly able to wear shorts that must extend "10 centimeters above the kneecap," women are forced to wear bikini bottoms. Even worse, there's even a graphic that shows the appropriate angle! Singer Pink has reached out and offered to pay all the fines. It's obvious that there are some serious changes that are needed in the sport.
Surya Bonaly, Rebel on Ice
Surya Bonaly participated in the 1988 Olympics in free skating. During her performance, she landed an illegal, albeit, incredibly difficult one-foot backflip. She pulled it off flawlessly, but did she get rewarded? Nah. While it looked absolutely amazing and she was the second skater to ever complete the move, it was deemed illegal.
The judges deducted points from her final score. She didn’t place, but she’ll be forever one of the most talented skaters ever. Is it just me, or should no move be illegal during the Olympics? It's supposed to be about skill, so why punish someone for doing something awesome? That's awfully questionable.
Beijing Human Rights Violations
When Beijing won its 2008 Olympic Games bid, human rights activists immediately began protesting. There were allegations that the country imposed restrictions on open media and supported repressive regimes. To make matters worse for the country, there were also concerns that the air in Beijing was unsafe due to high pollution rates.
During the Olympics, the Chinese Government issued guidelines for local media to downplay all political and social issues that were not directly connected to the games. The human rights abuses resurged when several human rights groups issued a joint statement, calling for the boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Jim Thorpe’s Pro Career
Today, this scandal may seem pretty dumb, but it was huge in 1912. Jim Thorpe was one of the greatest American athletes of all time and had won medals for the pentathlon and decathlon. However, the Olympic Committee was serious when they said no professionals could compete. While Jim Thorpe wasn’t a professional in any sport he competed in, he was a professional baseball player.
He was later stripped of his medals. He won gold in the decathlon and pentathlon for the Olympics, so why is the fact he played semi-professional baseball an issue? The medals were eventually returned...30 years after his death in 1983. They gave him replicas after ruling the decision fell outside of the "required 30 days."
Simone Biles Withdrawal
Just as the Tokyo Olympics were getting started, news broke that Simone Biles – America’s favorite gymnast – would withdraw from the competition. At first, she didn't offer any information other than it being a “medical issue.” Then, she held press conferences to discuss what was really going on and why she had to pull out.
Biles stated that her head wasn’t in it, and she wasn't able to complete vaults she had been able to do prior. It was affecting her score and mental health. Other gymnasts understood saying there’s a point where your body just refuses to complete the moves. Biles said she would rather pull out than risk severely injuring herself, which would end her career forever.
To participate in the Olympics, you must be a minimum of 16 years old, and this is a rule the International Olympic Committee doesn't listen to any "if," "and," or "buts" about this subject. When it was discovered one of the Chinese gymnasts was 14, it became a huge thing.
Dong Fangxiao had won bronze when she competed in the 2000 Summer games, but she didn’t keep it long. Her records were nullified, and she lost the Bronze medal, which later went to an American gymnast. Since then, the age of Chinese athletes has been questioned on a regular basis.
Bribery at Salt Lake City
In 2002, it was discovered that Salt Lake City officials and representatives had been bribing the International Olympic Committee to have the Olympics in their hometown. Cash, ski trips, and Super Bowl tickets were offered to IOC officials to pick the city, which had failed to have the Games four times.
The failure of a fifth time was too much, so they did what they could to secure a win. When discovered, the investigation went international, plenty of people lost their jobs, and new standards were put in place. After all was said and done, Salt Lake still hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Russia’s Doping Scandal
One of the most recent scandals involves the Russian team doping at the 2016 Rio Games. The International Olympic Committee had all of the Russian athletes tested for illegal substances by three-member independent panels. In the end, 116 Russian athletes were banned from participating because substances were found in their system.
This made Russia with the most competitors who here caught doping at the Olympic Games. That isn't a title you want! Due to the widespread violations (and an attempt to sabotage ongoing investigations by the manipulation of computer data), the World Anti-Doping Agency banned Russia from all major sports events for four years. However, in 2020, it was reduced to two years after Russia appealed.
Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan
The Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan scandal is one of the biggest ever seen in the Olympics. It even turned into a movie! Here’s what happened: In 1994, Nancy Kerrigan was stepping off the ice when she was hit in the leg by a “club-like instrument” prior to the Olympic qualifiers.
Later, it was discovered that Tonya Harding’s ex-husband had planned the attack so Harding would go to the Olympics. Harding claimed she had no idea of the attack but was still banned from the U.S. Figure Skating Association. Kerrigan qualified for the Olympics and went on to win Silver.
Accidental Drug Scandal
Many of us take pseudoephedrine when we’re sick. It’s a common ingredient in cold medicines, but it's considered a stimulant -- at least, according to the International Olympic Committee. Unfortunately, Andreea Raducan didn’t know this when she went to the Olympics in 2000. She competed at just 16 years old and won the all-around gold medal.
Following this, she was tested and lost her medals for taking cold medicine. Raducan was exonerated of any personal wrongdoing by the Court of Arbitration, but her medals weren't reinstated. The doctor was sure banned, though! The good thing about this story is that she was able to return to the Olympics, where she won five additional World Championship medals.
2016 Rio Games
The 2016 Rio Games started with controversies involving the Zika Virus and polluted water, but the scandals didn’t stop there. The Games were riddled with scandalous scenes that were definitely out of the ordinary. Along with Russians being banned due to doping, and aformer Olympic Council member of Ireland was arrested for scalping tickets.
As if that wasn't enough, Ryan Lochte was accused (and cleared) of making a false police report after he claimed he was robbed at gunpoint, and the Russian fan house was truly robbed at the beginning of the 2016 Games. For this reason, we're just going to list all of the 2016 Rio Games on the list. It was truly a mess.
Sochi’s Olympic Village
The 2016 Rio’s Olympic Village was bad, but Sochi’s athlete quarters in 2014 beat it out by a landslide. There were infamous tweets of side by side toilets, yellow tap water, and a hilarious tweet of Dan Wetzel trading three light bulbs for a door handle saying, “The offer is real.”
Only a year later, in February 2015, the entire Olympic Village was mostly unused and abandoned. In essence, it has become a $51 billion empty parking lot. If the goal was to make Sochi a year-round sea-side and alpine resort, the effort has failed. At least the Olympic stadium will be used again for the 2018 World Cup.
Apparently, you can cheat in pretty much anything, but this one really takes the bait. In 1932, it was claimed that Swedish equestrian Bertil Sandström had been encouraging his horse while racing by making a clicking noise. In response, Sandström claimed that the sound was coming from his saddle. That didn't fly.
Officials decided he wasn’t telling the truth. He originally placed second, earning him Silver, in individual dressage but was demoted to dead last place because of all the clicking. That really sucks for the horse, too, considering it was also trying its hardest. We feel sorry for the poor thing!
2020 Tokyo Olympics
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were already pushed back a year, so the last thing the city wanted to do was push it back again. Despite the fact that COVID-19 was still rearing its ugly head, the Olympics moved forward. Almost immediately, everyone began to realize the consequences of moving forward with the Games.
A total of 71 Olympians have been diagnosed with COVID-19, with some being hospitalized for complications. Some weren’t allowed to participate following their positive tests. As the Olympians rolled in, Tokyo also saw the highest COVID-19 case spike day-over-day, with 2,848 cases. The World Health Organization says this is only the beginning.
Sha'Carri Richardson's Suspension
Over July 4th weekend (2021), news broke that Olympian Sha’Carri Richardson was suspended following a positive for cannabis use. It further raised the questions about why the drug is banned altogether. You’d think it wouldn’t really enhance their performance as much as dampening it. Regardless, she was still barred from playing due to her marijuana use.
What’s worse is that Michael Phelps was famously photographed smoking marijuana as well, and he was able to participate in the Olympics. Richardson’s mother had just passed away, and she used marijuana in Oregon, where it’s fully legalized. What’s important to note is that Japan hasn’t banned her, but rather the International Olympic Committee.
Marion Jones’s Steroids
You would think that steroids are one of those no-no subjects all athletes know not to do (or talk about) before the Olympics. However, some don't seem to care for some reason. United States athlete Marion Jones won five gold medals in the 2000 Sydney Games, but they weren’t hers for long.
Jones openly admitted to using steroids to prepare for the Olympics, which obviously ended badly for her. Why would she ever use a banned substance in the first place? She received six years in prison and two years of probation for lying to federal agents who were investigating her steroid use.
Larry Nassar was once the United States national women's gymnastics team doctor. While many gymnasts complained of his behavior as early as the '90s, it wasn't until 2015 that the USA Gymnastics organization began really looking into him. After news broke that he was being investigated, many women spoke out about their experiences, stating Nassar abused them.
Many of the women who spoke out recounted how Nassar sexually molested them when they were as young as 13. The lawsuits began piling up. Eventually, by 2016, Nassar was indicted on several charges of sexual assault of a child. Initially, he was given 40 to 175 years, but that was upped to another 40 to 125 years after he pled guilty to more cases.
Badminton Players Throwing Games
The point of the Olympics is to win, right? In 2012, it was discovered that eight female badminton players were purposefully losing games. The group included players from China, South Korea, and Indonesia. What they were trying to do was fix matches to play a weak team later in the finals.
All eight of them were disqualified from the Olympics when the IOC found out what was going on. They were also charged with not doing their best to win a match and for abusing or demeaning the sport. They weren't even slick about it. They literally hit the served into the net several times.
Banning Afro Caps
The International Olympic Committee decided to make an odd decision – to ban Afro caps. These caps are specifically designed not to damage afro hair, but for some reason, they’re being considered “hats” with the IOC. Soul Cap, one of the main companies that design this type of swim cap, is specifically created to fit over and protect dreadlocks, afros, weaves, braids, and thick and curly hair.
Because afro hair is naturally dryer than other hair, bleach can dry it out even further, which could damage it. Smaller caps simply don't fit on some swimmer's heads, so banning afro caps was a huge blow. Needless to say, swimmers were upset by the decision while others said the move was shocking and disgusting.
German Full-Body Suits
The German gymnast team took a stance during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics when they didn't don the typical leotard that stopped at their hips. Instead, they wore full unitards, which is the full-length version that covers the legs. The team decided they wanted to speak out about the over-sexualization of gymnasts, stating “We wanted to show that every woman, everybody, should decide what to wear.”
The unitards don't constrict their movements in any way, and they state that it's more comfortable than the traditional leotard. However, that doesn't mean the judges and Olympic Committee were happy. Fortunately for the team, there aren't any regulations against it – unlike the poor handball team who were fined for wearing shorts instead of bikinis.
Natural High Testosterone Suspensions
This year, two Namibian track stars are in the headlines for good reasons, although it seems as though they're being punished. Christine Mboma won the women's 400 meters in a shocking 48.54 seconds, which was the fastest time in the world this year. Then came Beatrice Masilingi who ran 400 meters in 49.53 seconds – seventh-fastest worldwide.
After blowing away the competition, the International Olympic Committee decided to do some medical turns. It turns out, they have naturally high testosterone levels – the keyword being “natural.” Despite it being completely natural, the IOC decided to ban them from running the 400-meter race. The sad fact is that it isn’t that uncommon for women to have high testosterone levels. Why pick on these two?
Fragile French Judge
There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Canadians Jamie Salé and David Pelletier should have won at the 2002 Olympics for free skating. However, a surprise came when Russian duo Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze got the gold. A French judge, Marie-Reine Le Gougne, later had a breakdown in a hotel lobby.
Le Gougne said that she had reversed the scores to give the Russians the gold. She also admitted to giving the French the gold in ice dancing. Because of the issue with the judge, the Canadians and Russians co-own the gold medal record. They all got gold medals, so everyone's a winner thanks to Le Gougne.
Ben Johnson's Doping
The 1988 Seoul Olympics was a huge event. The biggest news headline was that Ben Johnson was going to race against his biggest competitor, Carl Lewis, in the 100-meter dash. It was the match everyone had been waiting for! Somehow, Johnson managed to beat Lewis and set a new record of 9.79 seconds.
Something about it was a little suspicious so days later, he was tested for steroids, and stanozolol was found in his system. Johnson lost the gold, and it was given to Lewis who had gotten second place. Now, the race is considered to be the dirtiest race in Olympic history.
Kerri Strug’s Second Vault
At the 1996 Olympics, Kerri Strug vaulted but landed wrong on her ankle causing it to fracture. Then, she hopped right back up on the vault again. That left many people asking, “why did she jump again if she was hurt?” Looking back, the reason was obvious. Coach Bela Karolyi was yelling at her to continue despite her broken ankle.
By all means, she shouldn't have vaulted a second time, but she was forced to do it. All he wanted was a gold medal despite the permanent damage caused by the injury. Strug was forced into retirement at 18 years old, which may not have happened if she had decided not to jump. Now, Strug is an avoid voice against the backlash Simone Biles is suffering from following her withdrawal from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The International Olympic Committee is on a roll in 2021. This time, they’ve decided to ban anything related to the Black Lives Matter movement that’s swept the world. They’ve stated, “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.” This isn’t the first time there have been protests similar to BLM.
In 1968, two African American athletes (Tommie Smith and John Carlos) raised their fists while the national anthem played and chose to go shoeless when they received their medals. This was to represent black poverty while calling out inequality. The pair were promptly suspended. Afterward, it came to light that the IOC president at the time, Avery Brundage, didn’t have a problem with the 1936 Nazi salutes.
(Image via Facebook; - / EPU / AFP/Getty Images)
Oscar Pistorius’s Murder
Oscar Pistorius made headlines by being one of the first amputee sprinters to compete in the Olympic games in 2012. Despite his Olympic achievements, he’s better known for the murder of his girlfriend in 2014. He was originally found guilty and convicted of culpable homicide with a sentence of five years in prison.
After an appeal by state prosecutors, his sentence was upped to murder and six years in prison for firing four bullets through a closed bathroom door, which killed his girlfriend. Pistorius has attempted several appeals, but they've actually led to more jail time. The Supreme Court of Appeal decided that his original term of six years was too short, increasing his sentence to 15 years. Pistorius is eligible for release in 2023.
Hitler’s Olympic Obsession
Even though it would be considered ridiculous now, the 1936 Olympics were held in Berlin while under the control of Adolf Hitler. It’s no surprise that Hitler wanted to use the Olympic games to spread Nazi propaganda and ideals to the rest of the world. He was all about that PR.
Along with refusing to acknowledge or meet Jesse Owens, Hitler was furious over the ethnicity of some athletes, and many athletes refused to compete that year. We’re happy to say Owens wasn’t one of them because went on to win four golds on the track, and the performance easily became one of the best in history.
Angel Matos Kicking a Ref
Taekwondo is a very serious sport where injuries can easily occur. In 2008, Cuban athlete Angel Matos fell and requested medical assistance. Athletes are only allotted a one-minute rest period, but Matos took too long. After being disqualified from the games, he got pretty angry and started attacking the referee.
First, kicked the ref in the face, punched a judge in the arms, and then finally spat on the floor of the arena. Security got involved and Matos (as well as his coach) were both escorted from the building. . The move immediately got him banned from the Olympic games. Soon after that, Matos was banned altogether.
South Africa’s Suspension
In 1964, South Africa’s racial segregation became a major issue. South Africa had an apartheid system, which promoted discrimination based on skin color. The apartheid made it illegal for white people and people of color to marry or have relationships. In fact, it was illegal to have a child of a mixed-race.
The legislation even split families ups. This led to a discussion but the IOC. The debate around this policy led to the suspension of South Africa from all Summer and Winter Games until 1992 when the ban was lifted. Despite the ban, South Africa was still able to participate in the 1964 Summer Paralympics.
U.S. Basketball Team Robbed
Plenty of people say that teams were robbed of gold, but in 1972, it was true that the United States basketball team was robbed of gold. That year, the U.S. team was playing against the Soviet team. Doug Collins had the ball but was knocked down by a Soviet player. This garnered him two free throws. He made both, giving the U.S. the lead for the first time in the game.
The buzzer sounded and the Americans had won by one point according to the scoreboard. Then, suddenly, officials claimed there were three seconds left in the game. In that three seconds, the Soviets scored and won the gold. The three seconds came from a timeout that was supposedly called before the second free throw, but others claim that never happened.