5 infamous dope cheats in Olympics history you need to know about

Marion Jones
Marion Jones, the darling of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, was later found to have been doping
Rahul Gupta

There might be conspiracy theories floating around Narsingh Pancham Yadav, as many claim that the wrestler from India was a victim of internal sabotage within the WFI itself. The same can be said of shot putter Inderjeet Singh who has also tested positive for the use of an anabolic steroid after an ad-hoc round of testing by the National Anti-Doping agency.

The shotput athlete from Punjab has claimed that this is part of a conspiracy to keep him shut. Indeed, Inderjeet has been vocal against the Athletics Federation of India’s inability to provide proper infrastructure for its athletes. So whether or not, these scandals are simply clumsiness from the part of the athletes or a larger conspiracy theory is for another time.

However, as the nation is still reeling under the doping scandal that has struck the Indian contingent over the last week or so, it should be remembered that this is not the first case of doping violation in the history of the Olympic games. Quite a few infamous and rather familiar international names have been associated with doping over the years.

Here's a look at the most prominent of them:

#1 Marion Jones (USA)

The American sprinter and long jumper was the star of the 2000 Sydney games claiming 5 Medals (3 Golds & 2 Bronzes), becoming the first athlete ever to do so in a single Olympiad.

There was suspicion surrounding the athlete’s prowess, however, as the American’s husband and athlete CJ Hunter had tested positive of the use of steroids. In 2007, the American admitted to the use of performance enhancers during the Sydney Games. The Athlete was given a 6-month sentence for lying to the federal agents and later stripped of her Olympic medals.

#2 Lance Armstrong (USA)

Lance Armstrong Olympics
Lance Armstrong claimed a bronze in the Men’s individual Olympics

Lance Armstrong was perhaps the most famous name who was a dope offender in the multiple doping scandals that have plagued the sport of cycling since the late 90s. The once-legendary cyclist and cancer survivor had won 7 consecutive Tour De France (the most prestigious cycling event in the world) and had competed in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where he had won a Bronze medal.

Armstrong initially denied his involvement in using banned substances but later, after an extensive investigation, gave in and admitted to the use of performance-enhancing drugs throughout the majority of his cycling career. This breach in doping standards saw him being stripped of all his Tour De France titles.

Soon after, the IOC asked him to return his Olympics medal and he duly obliged, thus tarnishing his legacy and ruining his image in the world of sports.

#3 Ben Johnson (Canada)

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson took home the gold in the 100m dash at the 1988 Seoul Olympics

Ben Johnson had won the Gold Medal in the 100m sprint at the 1988 Seoul Olympics with a world record timing of 9.79 seconds, breaking his own record of 9.83 seconds. He had defeated fellow sprinter Carl Lewis in what was described as the greatest sprint race of all time.

He only had a day to rejoice though as it was on the very next day that Johnson tested positive for an anabolic steroid and was stripped of the gold medal, which was awarded to Carl Lewis who had been placed second.

Canadian newspapers went berserk over the news, devoting between five to eight pages daily on the defamed sprinter. Such was the magnitude of the scandal, that Ben Johnson was announced as the "newsmaker of the year" by the Canadian press that year. Hardly for the right reasons, though.

#4 Michelle Smith (Ireland)

Michelle Smith Olympics
Michelle Smith shocked everyone with her performances at the 1996 Olympics

The Irish swimmer was the surprise package of the 1996 Atlanta games, where she was singlehandedly responsible for Ireland’s best ever medals tally at an Olympiad, grabbing 3 gold medals. This came as a surprise to many in the world of swimming as just 3 years to that day, she had never finished in the top 25 in any swimming event in the world.

The sudden rise of the Irish girl prompted many to speculate, and accusations of doping and use of performance-enhancing drugs were laid upon the swimmer. No concrete evidence was found proving the same immediately, but two years later, a random urine test proved to be her downfall.

She was banned from swimming by FINA after a ruling proved that she had tampered with her urine sample which was taken from her home. A four-year ban at the age of 28 proved to be the end of her career and indeed her legacy in the world of swimming.

#5 Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall (Sweden)

Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall
Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall had to return his Olympic for having excessive alcohol in his system

In the world of professional shooting, a steady hand and nerves of steel are priceless assets. You almost need to be in a state of trance when firing that pistol/rifle. Swedish pentathlete Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall found achieving this state relatively easy, as shortly before stepping up to the mark and taking aim, he would have a strong drink or two.

However, new laws meant that the Mexico Olympics were the first games in which athletes were tested for performance enhancing substances. After testing positive to having excessive quantities of alcohol within the system, Liljenwall later admitted that he had been competing under the influence of “a couple of beers”.

Subsequently, he had to return the bronze medal that he won.

Edited by Staff Editor


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