Let’s be real, we can’t make it through an entire Olympics without a scandal or two surfacing, but that’s what happens when you gather thousands of perfectly sculpted and hard-trained athletes from around the world and have them compete for ultimate bragging rights — best in the WORLD! And as someone who races strangers up the subway platform daily for no reward at all, I understand competitiveness. But sometimes the intense pressure drives professional athletes to do stupid things and with so much at stake, Olympians are scrutinized and closely watched even when they are playing fair. We’ve gathered 10 Olympic Scandals in the last 20 years (we had to narrow it down somehow!) including two very recent Olympic controversies.
10. Ye Shiwen, 2012 Summer Olympics, London
After setting a world record winning the women’s 400-meter individual medley on Saturday, Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen caught the eye of many. The 16-year-old swam the final 25 meters of the women’s race faster than Olympic champion Ryan Lochte swam the final 25 meters of the men’s individual medley to win the gold. On Monday, Ye swam in the 200-meter individual medley scoring the fastest qualifying time, setting yet another world record. So it should be of no surprise (unfortunately) that the teen is facing accusations of using performance enhancing substances. At this time, Ye maintains her innocence saying, “There’s absolutely no problem with the doping.” We hope not, Ye, we love a good clean fight.
9. Voula Papachristou, 2012 Summer Olympics, London
There is no defending Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou, who was banned from competing in the Olympics after posting a racist joke on Twitter. Referring to multiple cases of the West Nile virus being reported in Greece this summer, Voula tweeted, “With so many Africans in Greece, at least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat homemade food!” All the apologies in the world couldn’t make up for that one…byeee, Voula!
8. Chinese Gymnastics Team, 2008 Summer Olympics, Beijing
In the 2008 Summer Olympics, the Chinese gymnastics team faced accusations that a number of the girls on the gold-medal winning team might have just been hitting puberty. Jiang Yuyuan, Yang Yilin and He Kexin faced an investigation when documents were released showing at least one of the girls to be under 16-years-old. The case was closed in 2008 after Chinese officials provided original passports and IDs, but you can still check out their little baby faces here.
7. All Olympic Teams, Possibly Every Olympics Ever
If you are an Olympian, everything is heightened. This includes your nearly unparalleled athletic skill, your insanely toned body, your intense competitive spirit, your likely ridiculously good looks, and also, apparently, your strong desire for human-to-human skin connections. There have been increasing reports about how the Olympic Village is a hotbed of sex, with Olympians hooking-up all over the place. Soccer star Hope Solo went on record saying, “There’s a lot of sex going on” among the athletes during competition. There were also reports of the gay dating app Grindr crashing once the Olympic athletes arrived in London. But honestly, can we really blame them? One perfectly sculpted bod seeking another perfectly sculpted bod? Seems about right.
6. Michael Phelps, 2008 Summer Olympics, Beijing
Sometimes superstar swimmers do dumb things like wear grills with the American flag on them while on the medal stand (we’re looking at you, Lochte), or even dumber things like get caught smoking a bong (that one belongs to you, Phelps). Michael Phelps was caught smoking earth’s sweet, sweet medicine at a Super Bowl party in Florida months after the 2008 Olympics. He later apologized and vowed it would never happen again. Just stick to those highs you get from hittin’ the swimmin’ pool, young Phelpster!
5. Marion Jones, 2000 Summer Olympics, Sydney
Hearts were crushed in 2007 when runner Marion Jones admitted to taking steroids before the 2000 Summer Olympics. She then surrendered her five medals from those Games. In 2008, Jones was sentenced to six months in prison for pleading guilty to lying to federal agents about her drug use, as well as for her involvement in check-fraud. In 2009, Jones attempted to restart her athletic career by joining the WNBA.
4. Spanish Men’s And Women’s Basketball Teams, 2008 Summer Olympics, Beijing
In the biggest worst decision ever made, the Spanish men’s and women’s basketball teams were photographed making a “slanty-eye” gesture to make themselves look more Chinese. The photos were used in ads for their team sponsor, Seur. Spain center and Lakers player Pau Gasol later apologized, saying the ad was supposed to be funny and not offensive…yikes! We hope that Pau does not attempt any more “comedic” material in public, ever, ever again.
3. Dong Fangxiao, 2000 Summer Olympics, Sydney
Chinese gymnast Dong Fangxiao won a bronze team medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics, but the team was stripped of the medal when an investigation later revealed Fangxiao was only 14-years-old during the competition. Two years younger than the IOC’s minimum age for competition, Ms. Dong’s medal went to Team USA. This scandal did not deter China in its ever-lasting quest to pull a fast one on the Olympics (see this list, scandal #8!).
2. Edinanci Silva, 1996-2008 Summer Olympics
Brazilian judo athlete Edinanci Silva participated in four consecutive Summer Olympics. Silva was born with both male and female sex organs and in the mid-’90s had a surgery to live and compete as a woman. Though Silva passed the IOC’s gender test and was officially allowed to compete as a woman, controversy still surrounded her status. At the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, she beat Australian judoka Natalie Jenkins. At a press conference after the meet Jenkins allegedly referred to Silva as “he” multiple times. Either way, lady looks tough!
1. Angel Matos, 2008 Summer Olympics, Beijing
Cuban taekwondo athlete Angel Matos got into major trouble after he kicked Swedish referee Chakir Chelbat in the face during a match at the 2008 Summer Olympics. Matos and his coach were ejected from the event and banned from future World Taekwondo Federation events. The Olympics are a time for good-natured sport and global unity. In other words, no face-kicking allowed!
[Photos: Getty Images]