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A Brief History Of Olympic Cheats

Cheating at the Olympics has a long and creative history. As the powers that be decide whether the Russian team will be banned from the upcoming summer games in Rio, we take a look at some of the more unusual cases of cheating, and alleged cheating, at the Olympic Games.

Bertil Sandstrom, a Swedish dressage rider, was stripped of his silver medal at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics after officials claimed to have heard him illegally "clicking" encouragement to his horse. The army officer claimed the judges had, in fact, heard the creak of his leather saddle, but Sandstrom was officially placed last in the event.  
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Bertil Sandstrom, a Swedish dressage rider, was stripped of his silver medal at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics after officials claimed to have heard him illegally "clicking" encouragement to his horse. The army officer claimed the judges had, in fact, heard the creak of his leather saddle, but Sandstrom was officially placed last in the event.



 

Dora Ratjen competed in the women's high jump at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Ratjen had a cute bob and an enormous leap but refused to shower naked with female teammates...
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Dora Ratjen competed in the women's high jump at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Ratjen had a cute bob and an enormous leap but refused to shower naked with female teammates...

Two years after placing fourth at the Olympics, Ratjen broke the world record in the women's high jump. But after the former record-holder, Dorothy Tyler-Odam, wrote to officials saying, "She's not a woman, she's a man," an investigation was launched. And, as Tyler-Odam put it, "They did some research and found 'her' serving as a waiter called Hermann Ratjen. So I got my record back."
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Two years after placing fourth at the Olympics, Ratjen broke the world record in the women's high jump. But after the former record-holder, Dorothy Tyler-Odam, wrote to officials saying, "She's not a woman, she's a man," an investigation was launched. And, as Tyler-Odam put it, "They did some research and found 'her' serving as a waiter called Hermann Ratjen. So I got my record back."

Pistol shooter Hans-Gunnar Liljenvall may not have paid close attention to the rules of the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games -- the first in which athletes were tested for performance-enhancing substances. After confessing to competing under the influence of "two beers," he and the entire Swedish pistol-shooting team were stripped of their bronze medals.
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Pistol shooter Hans-Gunnar Liljenvall may not have paid close attention to the rules of the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games -- the first in which athletes were tested for performance-enhancing substances. After confessing to competing under the influence of "two beers," he and the entire Swedish pistol-shooting team were stripped of their bronze medals.

A judge checks the weapon of Soviet fencer Boris Onischenko during the 1976 Montreal Olympics. The Ukrainian had used wires hidden in the handle to enable his epee to register a "touch" with a pull of the finger. After the public discovery of the contrivance, he was, according to The Guardian, "called before Leonid Brezhnev himself for a personal rollicking, dismissed from the Red Army, fined 5,000 rubles, stripped of all his sporting honors, and was now working as a taxi driver in Kyiv. Nothing has been heard of him since."  
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A judge checks the weapon of Soviet fencer Boris Onischenko during the 1976 Montreal Olympics. The Ukrainian had used wires hidden in the handle to enable his epee to register a "touch" with a pull of the finger. After the public discovery of the contrivance, he was, according to The Guardian, "called before Leonid Brezhnev himself for a personal rollicking, dismissed from the Red Army, fined 5,000 rubles, stripped of all his sporting honors, and was now working as a taxi driver in Kyiv. Nothing has been heard of him since."

 

In the lead-up to the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics, a media frenzy erupted around figure-skating champion Tonya Harding.
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In the lead-up to the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics, a media frenzy erupted around figure-skating champion Tonya Harding.

Harding's main team competitor, Nancy Kerrigan (left), was attacked after a practice by an assailant who struck her leg with an iron bar. After Harding pleaded guilty to hindering the prosecution, she was banned for life from figure skating. In 2008, Harding made a short-lived foray into television as a commentator on TruTV Presents: World's Dumbest.
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Harding's main team competitor, Nancy Kerrigan (left), was attacked after a practice by an assailant who struck her leg with an iron bar. After Harding pleaded guilty to hindering the prosecution, she was banned for life from figure skating. In 2008, Harding made a short-lived foray into television as a commentator on TruTV Presents: World's Dumbest.

The 2000 Sydney Olympics saw a record-equaling eight medals for China's gymnastics team, until some questions were raised about Dong Fangxiao. An investigation found she had been just 14 while competing -- two years below the minimum age. A Chinese state-controlled newspaper quoted an expert as saying, "Coaches -- and not just in China -- have also long falsified ages for girls whose small and supple bodies give them a competitive advantage over larger and older young women."
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The 2000 Sydney Olympics saw a record-equaling eight medals for China's gymnastics team, until some questions were raised about Dong Fangxiao. An investigation found she had been just 14 while competing -- two years below the minimum age. A Chinese state-controlled newspaper quoted an expert as saying, "Coaches -- and not just in China -- have also long falsified ages for girls whose small and supple bodies give them a competitive advantage over larger and older young women."

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