The Olympics is a major international multi-sport event normally held once every four years. The Olympics is an event that converges athletes from all around the world. And even though on the outside it looks like such an amazing event, sometimes things can get ugly.

Throughout Olympic History, there have been many scandals varying from intensity and judgment, which have been, in some cases, the spoilsport of the festivity, taking the focus away from the exceptional athletes and their accomplishments.

So, if you’re feeling curious, on the eve of the next Olympics Games to be held from 23 July to 8 August 2021 in Tokyo, Japan, we bring to you the top 10 scandals in the Olympics. Hopefully, this year’s gala won’t be stained… We’ll see…


10. Władysław Kozakiewicz Gives The Bras D’Honneur

via El Correo

It was in 1980, during the Olympic Games held in Russia. Władysław Kozakiewicz was a Polish athlete that had just won the gold medal. Once in the pole vault, Władysław decided to give the “bras d’honneur” or “arm of honor” to the Russian officials and to the people attending the competition since they acted rowdily towards any competitor who wasn’t wearing Soviet red, expecting to affect their competitor’s performance.


9. Jim Thorpe Stripped Of His Gold Medals

via Smithsonian

Jim Thorpe is a well-known American athlete. It is actually considered one of the greatest athletes in American History. During the 1912 Olympic Games held in Stockholm, Sweden, he won two gold medals for his performance in both the Pentathlon and Decathlon. However, it was then discovered he was no amateur. He had played minor league baseball three years prior to the Olympics. For this reason, he was stripped of both medals.


8. Paavo Nurmi Banned From Competition

via Olympics

Paavo Nurmi was one of the best middle-to long-distance runners in the world. He established six world records and won nine gold medals representing the Finnish flag. However, during the Olympic Games of 1932 held in Los Angeles, United States, Swedish officials issued a ban on Paavo stating that Paavo had received too much compensation for traveling expenses. Paavo wasn’t allowed to run in the Olympics. Though he came back victorious when he lit the torch at the 1952 Olympics held in Helsinki.


7. Spain’s Men’s And Women’s Basketball Teams Strike A Pose

via The Guardian

2008 Olympic Games were held in Beijing, China in which the Spanish female and male basketball teams won. During the photoshoots, they decided to do a “slant-eyes” pose. This was considered to be rude and offensive. Pau Gasol, one of the team members, publicly declared his apologies for the gesture.


6. USA Vs. Soviet Union Basketball Scandal

via Bleacher Report

During the 1972 Olympic Games held in Munich, Germany, wasn’t the exception for scandals. As it turns out, the USA men’s basketball team was winning 50-49 against the Soviet Union squad with three seconds left on the clock. The Soviets called a timeout, which was awarded. Even though they ran a play to win the game, they missed. Americans began to celebrate their presumable victory, however, the game clock hadn’t been properly reset and the Soviets were granted another chance to steal the game. On their next attempt, they finally got the ball in the basket and “won” the game. Team USA was so infuriated that they refused to accept the silver medals, and to this day the medals sit in a vault in Switzerland.


5. Park Si-Hun Defeats Roy Jones Jr.

via The Daily Beast

The 1988 Summer Olympics were held in Seoul, Korea. Roy Jones Jr. faced South Korean boxer Park Si-Hun. The competition was 3-2 in favor of Park, even though Jones landed 86 punches to Park’s 32. You don’t have to be a boxing connoisseur to know that this didn’t add up.


4. Boris Onishchenko Cheats In The Pentathlon

via Sports Illustrated

1976 Olympic Games was held in Montreal, Canada. And even though you might think cheating during the Olympics must be impossible, it isn’t. The case of Boris Onishchenko proves it. Boris Onishchenko was caught using an épée (a fencing sword) which was rigged with an electronic mechanism that scored points for him even when he didn’t hit his opponent. Luckily, he was found cheating and banned from the games.


3. USA Women’s Gymnastics Team Accuses Chinese Team Of Cheating In 2008

via The Atlantic

During the 2008 Olympic Games (Beijing, China), the Chinese Women’s Gymnastics team won the gold medal. Nonetheless, their opponents, the American team, started a rumor that the Chinese team might have cheated since they weren’t old enough to compete. A consensus couldn’t be established. To this day, this scandal remains unsettled.


2. Blood In The Water Match In 1956

via Smithsonian

During the 1956 Olympic Games (Stockholm, Sweden), the Soviet Union and Hungary were involved in a sticky political situation since the Soviets had invaded Hungary during the exact same year. So tensions between the teams were something you could cut off. During one of the swimming competitions, players started fighting viciously in the pool, many of them getting bloody in the process, so the game has to be called off.


1. Ben Johnson Busted For Doping

via Canadian Olympic Committee

1988 Olympic Games were held in Seoul, South Korea in which Ben Johnson, a Canadian sprinter, set a world record and won a gold medal in the 100m dash. But the victory didn’t last long for he was discovered to have been using performance-enhancing drugs. The news impacted the whole world. Johnson was disqualified from making it to the top of the scandals list in the history of the Olympics.