We’re less than a month away from the start of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio. Usually, when that many competitors from around the world gather in one place, there is likely to be some drama. Meant to be a symbol of international unity and sportsmanship, it’s inevitable for Olympic scandals to happen. Since it’s Throwback Thursday, let’s get pumped for the Olympics by reading about some scandals.
Olympic scandals have been around since some of the first games that took place. Back in 388 B.C., a boxer named Eupholus of Thessaly was charged with paying several boxers to throw their fights, but historians aren’t exactly sure why he did this. Eupholus faced a degrading form of punishment usually reserved for slaves, as well as paying a fine that was used to build a statue of Zeus. A plaque nearby the statue explained what crime Eupholus committed so that future generations would associate his name with cheating.
You’ve probably heard the name Jim Thorpe and for good reason, he was one of the best Olympic athletes the world has ever known. Did you know he is associated with an Olympic scandal, though? Thorpe was half-Native American, so he competed in any and every sport that would allow him to play. He easily qualified for the 1912 Olympics in Sweden. He was clearly the best athlete in almost every event that he competed in. Thorpe even set a record in the decathlon that hadn’t been beat in more than 20 years. So, where’s the scandal? Well, the Olympic officials found out that Thorpe played professional baseball back in 1910, which conflicted with the Olympic Games’ mission of promoting amateur, non-professional athletes. Sadly, Thorpe was stripped of all of his medals and they weren’t “returned” to him until 1982, 30 years after he died.
Emperor Nero was a big fan of the Olympic Games. Such a big fan, in fact, that he wanted to win his own medals. He was a busy man, so he spent a ton of money to delay the 67 A.D. games for two years in order to give him plenty of time to train and qualify for events. Training wasn’t enough, though; he wanted to win! So, he spent more money to give him the ability to compete in a four-horse chariot race with 10 horses. Despite being thrown off of his chariot early on in the race, Nero spent more money (you guessed it) to be deemed the champion of that event. In addition to this, Emperor Nero just had too many talents that weren’t Olympic events, so he requested that he receive additional gold medals for his singing and acting skills. Following his death, Olympic officials ended this Olympic scandal by simply erasing Nero’s name from the record books.