We know you can't resist a juicy tale of sports scandal and skulduggery, and the Olympics often provide the perfect stage. From modified weapons and horses on drugs to ice attacks and binge eating, Olympians through the years have made plenty of headlines and lost medals with their less-than-classy moves. Of course there are dozens to choose from, but we've compiled a list of eight of the most controversial Olympic athletes.
The Olympics' Most Controversial Athletes
Fanxiao, a Chinese gymnast, won the bronze at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. But when the International Gymnastics Federation confirmed she was only 14 years old. Athletes have to be 16 to compete in the Olympic Games.
The IOC canceled her score and took the medal back from the Chinese team in 2010. Similar scandals ensued at the 2008 Beijing Games.
The U.S. track and field star was not only a winner on the track, she had played for the WNBA. She boasted five medals at the 2000 Sydney Games, but none of them are decorating her mantle now.
Jones admitted in 2007 that she had been taking performance-enhancing drugs made by the now-infamous Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative, BALCO. She lost all of her medals.
When it comes to performance-enhancing drug scandals, we usually think of human athletes, not animals. After Irish equestrian athlete O'Connor won the gold for show jumping -- his country's only medal in the 2004 Olympic Games -- he and his horse Waterford Crystal became national celebrities.
Unfortunately, Waterford Crystal tested positive for a prohibited substance and that gold medal was taken away. O'Connor was only given a three-month ban from competition, and he's still riding today.
This Cuban taekwondo athlete was headed for glory with one gold medal under his belt from the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. But at the 2008 Games in Beijing, he put his fighting skills to rather inappropriate use. During a match against Kazakhstan's Arman Chilmanov, Matos hurt his toe. He was given a one minute rest, called a Kyeshi, but let it continue past the allotted time. The referee disqualified him, so naturally, he kicked the ref in the face, shoved a judge and spat on the floor.
That only got him disqualified from the World Taekwondo Federation, though many Cubans, including Fidel Castro, blamed it on judges they suspect were bribed.
Iranian Miresmaili had won two World Judo Championship gold medals. He was favored for the gold at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens and was set to face Israeli judoka Ehud Vaks in the first round. But that never happened.
Miresmaili was disqualified for being above the weight limit, and allegations ensued that he went on an eating binge in order to avoid facing an Israeli, showing solidarity with the Palestinians. The Iranian government rewarded him with $125,000.
She is perhaps the ultimate ice queen. In one of the biggest scandals of blonde vs. brunette -- errrr -- Olympic history, U.S. figure skater Tonya Harding was found to be behind a violent assault on her biggest rival, Nancy Kerrigan. Both women still competed in the 1994 Winter Olympics, but Kerrigan won the silver and the hearts of the media, leaving Harding in the eighth place dust.
A month after the Olympics, Harding was convicted of conspiracy to hinder prosecution and banned from U.S. figure skating for life. Harding, who has said her mother emotionally and physicallyy abused her, has been involved in a number of scandals since, including a sex tape, an attack on a boyfriend and a drunk driving arrest.
This Polish pole vaulter broke the world record three times, and to top it all off, had a lewd gesture named after him. You've probably given someone the "Kozakiewicza" -- in other words, the arm, the Italian salute, the more aggressive version of the finger. Well, Kozakiewicz didn't appreciate Soviet fans booing his performance at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, so when won the gold, he celebrated by giving the "Kozakiewicza" to the crowd.
Soviet officials demanded Kozakiewicz be stripped of his medal. The Polish government's response? It was a muscle spasm.
Competing for the Soviet Union at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Onishchenko was a pentathlete who was favored to win the fencing event, helping the Soviets make a comeback from fourth place. He was in a bout with British team captain Jim Fox when the British team noticed something odd about his weapon, an electric épée. The sword is designed to register "hits," and Onishchenko's was registering plenty of them -- when he hadn't actually struck his opponent's weapon. "Boris the Cheat" or "Disonischenko," as he became known, was disqualified. The Soviets were forced to withdraw and the British won the gold.
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