Accessibility links

Breaking News

Bolt Makes History Amid Drug, U.S. Swimming Scandals At Olympics

Sprinting legend Usain Bolt leads the field during an Olympic race. He became the first to win double gold medals in sprinting three times.

Jamaican legend Usain Bolt became the first man to win three straight double-gold medals in Olympic sprinting on a day when Rio seemed otherwise consumed by controversies surrounding doping and the U.S. swim team.

Bolt won gold in the 200-meter sprint on August 18 after winning the 100-meter race earlier this week, for the third Olympics in a row. He made it clear afterwards that he was aiming for the history books.

"I am trying to be one of the greatest. Be among Ali and Pele. I hope after these Games I will be in that bracket," he said, hinting that it may be his last Olympics.

"I'm getting older and my body is aging. Personally I think this is my last 200, but my coach may beg to differ."

There were a few other high points during the games -- Argentina won its first Olympic hockey gold, a new Chinese diving superstar named Ren Qian emerged, Jordan won its first gold medal, the United States won another raft of gold medals in track, and an Iranian woman became the first to win a medal in the Olympics.

But the day seemed to be mostly absorbed by the re-emergence of doping scandals and what almost became a major diplomatic incident involving the U.S. swim team.

Kyrgyz weightlifter Izzat Artykov, a bronze medalist, became the first athlete to be stripped of a Rio Olympics medal after testing positive for drugs.

But his case was followed quickly by announcements of doping suspensions of Moldovan Serghei Tarnovschi, who won bronze in the canoe sprint, and Indian wrestler Narsingh Yadav.

Brazilian road cyclist Kleber Da Silva Ramos was later disqualified for doping and Chinese swimmer Chen Xinyi got booted after a positive test for the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide.

Weightlifting, in particular, has been hit so hard by cases of doping that there was some talk it could be excluded from the Olympics in the future.

The entire Russia and Bulgarian weightlifting teams were banned from Rio, along with several Kazakh team members, and Olympic organizers considered banning two other weightlifting powerhouses -- Kazakhstan and Belarus -- altogether as well.

Doping scandals have plagued the games from the start, with more than 100 Russian athletes banned from the Olympics because of evidence of widespread, state-sponsored doping.

But the biggest talk of the games on August 18 was the controversy surrounding four U.S. Olympic swimmers who last week claimed amid great publicity that they had been robbed at gunpoint in Rio.

Brazilian police on August 18 questioned their stories and said the swimmers weren't robbed but rather got drunk and got into an altercation with security staff after vandalizing a gas station bathroom during a night on the town.

The swimmers by the end of the day were forced to admit they lied and make reparations to the gas station. In an unprecedented move, the U.S. Olympic Committee apologized for the whole incident.

"The behavior of these athletes is not acceptable," committee chief Scott Blackmun said, adding that he is considering penalizing the swimmers.

"We apologize to our hosts in Rio and the people of Brazil for this distracting ordeal in the midst of what should rightly be a celebration of excellence."

Though the police said they were considering charges against the swimmers, two of them were allowed to fly home late on August 18, as a crowd of Rio residents jeered them and called them "liars" and "fakes."

With reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, and dpa
  • 16x9 Image


    RFE/RL journalists report the news in 27 languages in 23 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. We provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate.