Seven Marvellous Olympic Cheats

By Jacob Lewis on at

The Olympics has a long and inspirational history full of, triumph, glory, perseverance and dedication, but it's also got a tonne of cheating gits who'd do anything to get their grubby little hands on a shiny medal. Here's a list of some of the more interesting (and idiotic) athletes who've got caught over the years.


The Mr Bean

In 1904 athletes took the Olympics a lot less seriously and didn't just leave the Mr Bean japes to the opening ceremony.

During the St Louis Olympics' marathon, New Yorker Fred Lorz got so dehydrated he had to quit just nine miles in. The defeated runner then hopped in a car with the intention of meeting the other racers at the finish line, but after 19 miles the car broke down. Being a well-known joker, Lorz thought it would be a laugh to re-enter the race, so he did, and won easily. Lorz treated the whole thing as a joke; soaked up the the crowd's adulation, and was about to be presented with a floral reef by First Lady Alice Roosevelt before Olympic officials figured out what had happened.

Thanks to his reputation as a prankster the Olympic officials believed he was only doing it for a laugh and Lorz was allowed to continue his athletic career; this was lucky for him because he went on to win the 1905 Boston Marathon without so much as a bicycle for assistance.


The Loveable Idiot

These three Tunisian stooges in Rome's 1960s modern pentathlon had no idea what they were doing, acting like something from a Monty Python sketch and still thought it worth cheating to avoid coming last. The amusingly-inept team all fell off their horses; were forced to stop shooting after they nearly shot the judges, and finally one plonker nearly drowned. They then started on the fencing event, soon realising that only one of them actually knew how to fence. In a stroke of mistaken genius, the team then concocted a comeback plan: they sent out the only team-member who knew how to fence, three times in a row, hoping no one would notice behind his fencing mask. It worked for a while, but by the third time, the opposition had caught on. The hapless young men were disqualified and finished last, in 17th place, which really serves them right, wouldn't you say?


The Almost-Got-Away-With-It

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Polish athlete Stalnislawa Walasiewiczowna got away with her impressive cheat for a really really long time. A women's 100 metre Olympic champion in 1932 and silver medalist in 1936, Stalnislawa was only found out to have been a bit of a cheat when an autopsy turned up the fact she had male sex organs.

Her birth certificate said she was female, and she had female characteristics as well as XX and XY chromosomes, so I guess she wasn't a total cheat. There's a whole bunch of controversy over this one, surrounding whether she was a male, female, or both, and whether she should have her world records posthumously removed (she had a whopping 18 in total). It's clearly way too late to make a fuss now, so I say let her keep them, especially as she lived and died a woman, so 10/10 for effort.


The Magic Sword

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Another modern pentathlete cheat, army officer Boris Onischenko also got caught out on the pesky fencing event. Sneaky Boris, or "Boris the cheat" as he became known after Montreal 1976, figured out how to give himself fencing points at will. The Ukrainian rascal wired his sword up so that he could trigger the electronic scoring system with his hand and register a hit willy-nilly. Before long, his opponents had worked out something was up: the British Jim Fox protested that his opponent's sword was rigged, and so Boris carried on with a replacement, but was then duly disqualified. There were rumours the poor guy got sent off to a Siberian salt mine, but I recon he was probably given a job building sneaky Soviet gadgets to kill James Bond, instead.


The Bloke Called Dora


German athlete Dora Ratjen finished fourth in the 1936 Berlin Olympic's women's high jump. But after what I presume was some kind of unfortunate clothing slip, Dora was revealed as a man while setting a women's high jump record in 1938. Dora the German man was disqualified and put on trial, although they couldn't make the fraud charge stick as the court decided he wasn't after financial gain.

His former team-mate and roomy only found out the truth about Dora in 1968 when she read a magazine article about it. "When I read it I laughed like crazy. I couldn't help myself," Gretel Bergmann told the BBC.

Horst "Dora" Ratjen himself never admitted that he just liked wearing a dress and instead used the classic cross-dressing excuse of the Nazis forced me, "for the sake of the honour and glory of Germany". "For three years I lived the life of a girl. It was most dull," he is reported as saying in 1957. Olympics; cross-dressing; high jump and Nazis? That's anything but dull, Dora.


The Original Prankster


The Olympics have been full of cheating bastards from the very beginning. The first ever Olympic marathon bronze was nearly awarded to a cheating Greek who covered part of the course not on foot, but in a carriage. When challenged, Belokas promptly admitted his guilt and third place was awarded to a Hungarian named Kellner. The Greeks weren't really too bothered because they'd come first and second anyway.

Marathons had way more drama back when most people never even made it to the finish line, and just collapsed along the way. The Greek winner of the marathon, Spiridon Louis however, was able to pause for a glass of wine at a village along the way, where he told the locals he was certain to win. The whole thing was heavily weighted towards the Greeks in the first place though, because they were the only team to have practiced the marathon before the event. So in a small way, I guess you could say all Greek winners were a bunch of cheats...?


The Everyone-Does-It

South African Cameron van der Burgh won the 100-metre breaststroke in record time at London's Aquatic Centre last week. But following complaints by the Aussie swim team, he admitted to cheating with the brilliantly lame excuse of, everyone else was doing '"the same thing". In breaststroke, competitors are allowed to take one dolphin kick at the start, and one after each turn before starting their breaststroke kick, but Cameron admitted to doing more than one. Lucky for the South African, no-one caught him on the day so he's probably off the hook now. There's no replay review in swimming and the post-race appeal period is long gone, anyway.

"If you're not doing it, you're falling behind," van der Burgh said. "It's not obviously — shall we say — the moral thing to do, but I'm not willing to sacrifice my personal performance and four years of hard work for someone that is willing to do it and get away with it."

"Brenton Rickard in the lane next to me, he's doing the exact same thing as me yet they're turning a blind eye."

"It's got to the sort of point where if you're not doing it you're falling behind or you're giving yourself a disadvantage so everyone's pushing the rules and pushing the boundaries, so if you're not doing it, you're not trying hard enough."

Clearly, they need to get more cameras on all these tricksy swimmers before this cheating stuff gets worse. If they were all up to the same tricks as Cameron suggests, then I say make an example of the lot of them, and take away all their medals.

Any of your "favourite" cheaters not make the list? Think any of these guys had a decent excuse? Tell us; tell us down below.