Olympic scandals and controversies
Adolf Hitler wanted to use the 1936 Summer Olympic Games in Berlin to promote the "superiority of the Aryan race." Jesse Owens (center) had other ideas. In fact, It's safe to say that the track star dashed away Hitler's belief that German athletes would dominate the games. The Ohio State University alum, known as the "Buckeye Bullet," won four gold medals in sprint and long jump events during the track and field competition. Owens' dominant performance wouldn't be approached until American Carl Lewis won four gold medals in the same events during the 1984 Olympics.
At the height of the Civil Rights Movement, 200-meter gold medalist Tommie Smith (center) and bronze medalist John Carlos (right) inspired this iconic image by performing the Black Panther salute during a medal ceremony at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.
The 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich were largely overshadowed by the "Munich Massacre," which caused competition to be suspended for the first time in modern Olympic history. On the morning of September 5th, members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage by a Palestinian terrorist group demanding the release of prisoners held by the Israeli government. By the end of the day, all 11 Israeli hostages had been executed following a failed rescue attempt (pictured) by West German police. Five of the eight members of the terrorist group were killed while the other three were captured. On September 6th, 3,000 athletes and 80,000 spectators attended a memorial service at Olympic Stadium before the games resumed.
Under the direction of President Jimmy Carter, the U.S. boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow to protest of Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. The U.S. held the Liberty Bell Classic, or the "Boycott Games," featuring 29 boycotting countries in Philadelphia.
Four years later, the USSR returned the favor by boycotting the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles citing a lack of security for their athletes. The Soviets, along with 14 of their boycotting allies, held the Friendship Games instead. Pictured: American distance runner Mary Decker gets her feet tangled with England's Zola Budd and falls to the side of the track midway through women's 3,000-meter run on Aug. 10, 1984 at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The rivalry between American figure skaters Tonya Harding (left) and Nancy Kerrigan (center, pictured with Kristi Yamaguchi) took a nasty turn when it was discovered that Harding plotted with her ex-husband and bodyguard to break Kerrigan's leg before the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. Kerrigan was clubbed above her right knee with a police baton but didn't suffer any major damage. Kerrigan recovered in time to win a silver medal in ladies singles. Harding was granted permission to compete but only managed to finish eighth. Later that year, Harding was banned from American figure skating for life.
The Olympic flag flies at half staff during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta following a bombing on July 27 in Centennial Olympic Park that killed one woman and injured 111 others. Security guard Richard Jewell, who discovered the bomb and alerted authorities, was thought to have planted the bomb but was later exonerated and hailed as a hero. Similar bombings in the Atlanta area led authorities to Eric Robert Randolph, who is now serving multiple life sentences in federal prison.
The U.S. Olympic team marches into Rice-Eccles Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, an Olympiad that began with scandal. In 1995, Salt Lake City won the bid for the right to host the 2002 Winter Olympics. In 1998, a local TV discovered that the bid committee bribed members of the International Olympic Committee with lavish vacations, college scholarships and Super Bowl tickets to win the bid. Ultimately, Salt Lake City was able to remain the host city, but 10 members of the IOC were forced to resign.
Greek sprinters Kostas Kenteris (left) Katerina Thanou (center) and their coach Christos Tzekos (right) pose for the photographers outside the Premier's office after the Sydney Olympics in this October 2000 file photo. The disgraced sprinters were charged on Nov. 18, 2004 with avoiding a doping test on the eve of the Athens Olympics, and faking a motorcycle accident hours later. Tzekos was charged with the same offenses, as well as the illegal import and sale of banned nutritional supplements.
Four doubles badminton teams from China, South Korea and Indonesia were disqualified from the 2012 London Olympics for purposely trying to lose. The Badminton World Federation said that the members of the teams conducted themselves "in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport."
In December 2017, the International Olympic Committee banned Russia from competing in the 2018 Winter Games because of a government-backed doping program that corrupted the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Instead, Russian athletes are competing in Pyeongchang as the Olympic Athletes of Russia, or OAR. The IOC's investigation found that urine samples from 12 Russian medalists in Sochi and another 15 samples from medalists from the 2012 London games were tampered with. The scandal continued in South Korea when Russian curler Alexander Krushelnytsky failed preliminary and follow-up drug tests with traces of meldonium, which has been banned since 2016, in his urine sample.