15 of the Biggest Scandals in Olympic History

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The Olympics are a time for the world to come together, but they're also a time left wide open for scandal. Here are 15 of the biggest scandals and most controversial moments in Olympics history.

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1912 — Jim Thorpe Lies About Being an Amateur Athlete
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When Thorpe competed in the 1912 games in Stolkholm, Sweden, the Olympics had a strict rule requiring athletes be amateurs to compete.

He won gold medals in the pentathlon and decathlon, but those awards were stripped when it came out that he had played professional minor league baseball three years earlier. The medals were eventually .

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1980 — The United States Boycotts the Olympics
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President Jimmy Carter announced that the United States would the 1980 Olympics in Moscow to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

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1984 — The Soviet Union Boycotts the Olympics
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In 1984, the Soviet Union the summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Although they said they boycotted because of security concerns, many believed it to be a direct response to the United States' boycott in 1980.

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1988 — Ben Johnson's Doping Scandal

At the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson won the 100 meter final and broke a world record. After the race, he , "A gold medal—that's something no one can take away from you."

They did though. Johnson was later stripped of his medal when a drug test found traces of the banned steroid stanozolol in his urine.

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1994 — Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding's Feud

The fierce competition between the skaters came to national attention in 1994 when Kerrigan was attacked with a "club-like instrument" which put her at risk of missing that year's Olympics, .

Eventually, it was discovered that Harding's ex-husband had planned the attack, which led to Harding being banned from U.S. Figure Skating Association for life, . Margot Robbie's 2017 film I, Tonya chronicles the events from Harding's perspective.

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1998 — Surya Bonaly Does an Illegal Backflip

During the Winter Olympics, Surya Bonaly became the second skater in history to pull off a very dangerous, one-foot backflip. The move was impressive, but illegal at the time, which cost Bonaly points.

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2000 — Andreea Răducan's Accidental Drug Scandal

At the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, 16-year-old Romanian gymnast Andreea Răducan took home the all-around gold only to have it stripped when she tested positive for pseudoephedrine. The banned substance turned out to be an ingredient in a cough medicine she was taking. In , she asked the IOC to reinstate her medal, but her request was denied.

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2000 — The Gymnastics Vault Is Too Low
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At the 2000 Games in Sydney, several gymnasts struggled with the vault. Later, it was that it was set a full two inches too low, which threw many of the athletes off. They were give a chance to perform the event again with the vault at the proper height.

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2000 — Dong Fangxiao Lies About Her Age

In 2000, the biggest Olympic scandal related to the age of competitors on the Chinese gymnastics team. While Olympic rules state that girls must be at least 16 to compete, it was that Dong Fangxiao was only 14.

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2002 — Marie-Reine Le Gougne
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During the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, Russian figure skaters Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze and Canadian skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier were considered neck and neck. The Russian team achieved a narrow victory. After the competition, French judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne allegedly had an emotional breakdown, and reportedly claimed she had been pressured by the head of her organization to vote for the Russians. Eventually, teams were given gold medals.

The was allegedly part of a vote-trading scheme and led to a judging reform for the sport.

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2007 — Marion Jones' Doping Scandal

At the 2000 games in Sydney, track star Marion Jones took home five medals, including three gold. The scandal didn't come to light until , however, when she admitted to using steroids to prepare for the games and was stripped of her medals.

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2008 — Angel Matos Kicks a Referee in the Face

In , Matos was disqualified when he took too long on a break while waiting for medical attention after sustaining an injury. In response, he kicked the referee in the face and was subsequently banned form the World Taekwondo Federation for life.

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2012 — Badminton Players Disqualified for Throwing Games

During the Games in London, eight female players were disqualified for throwing their games. The players, who hailed from China, South Korea, and Indonesia, reportedly planned to lose on purpose in order to face easier opponents in later rounds.

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2016 — Russian Doping Scandal
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Ahead of the 2016 games in Rio, the International Olympic Committee decided to review all of the Russian athletes slated to compete in response to allegations of widespread doping. After the inquiry, 271 Russian athletes were to compete and 116 athletes were banned.

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2016 — U.S. Swimmers' Mugging Scandal
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During the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Ryan Lochte, Jimmy Feigen, Gunnar Bentz, and Jack Conger claimed to have been robbed at gunpoint. Later, it was revealed that the so-called "muggers" were actually security guards who worked at a gas station where the swimmers had engaged in public urination and vandalism.

"I over-exaggerated that story and if I had never done that we wouldn't be in this mess," Lochte later.

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