9| 1924 Olympics Causes World War II
In 1924, Germany was still recovering from her disastrous defeat in WWI, looking to regain its national pride. However, due to ill feelings about the war, the rest of the participating nations voted to ban German athletes from the games, deeply wounding that country’s patriotic pride. Within months, nationalistic movements began to brew; within the year, Hitler’s meteoric rise to power had begun. Perhaps if Germany had been allowed to participate in the international Games, Hitler’s nationalist hatred wouldn’t have found such a ready audience.
10| Judges Rigging Games
In 2002, Russian figure skating pair Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze won the gold in the short program over the Canadians Jamie Salé and David Pelletier. The win was controversial because the Russians were not penalized for a fall during their program. While the judges in question denied any wrongdoing, the ensuing controversy led to accusations of collusion among the judges and the Canadians’ silver medal was later upgraded to a gold. The scandal led to many reforms in how Olympic judges score figure skating.
11| Michael Phelps Lost
The most controversial among all Olympics Conspiracies involves the American swimmer Michael Phelps. Did Michael Phelps really deserve his seventh gold medal at the 2008 Olympics? According to eagle-eyed conspiracy theorists, video and photo evidence from the event may indicate that Phelps actually lost the race by 1/100 of a second. An entire site, 001ofasecond.com, sprang up to accuse the U.S. of paying off officials for Phelps’ win and even suggested that the second-place swimmer was involved. The Olympic committee pointed out that other angles seem to prove the case for Phelps.
12| Black September Member Still Hunted?
During the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Israeli athletes were taken hostage by a Palestinian guerilla group named Black September. During the ensuing crisis, 11 people were killed including athletes, coaches and a West German police officer. In response, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and the Israeli Defense Committee reportedly charged the Mossad with tracking down and killing those responsible for the attack. As of 2012, only one of the Palestinian gunmen is still believed to be alive.
13| Rigged Basketball Championship
During the 1972 Olympics, the U.S. battled the Soviets for the gold medal in men’s basketball. During the last seconds of the game, with the U.S. up by three points, the Soviet coaches appeared to call a timeout. Another play was run, and the Soviets failed to score. The U.S. thought they had won, but Olympic officials allowed yet another play because they claimed the clock hadn’t been reset properly after the timeout. This time, with their do-over, the Soviets finally scored. The Americans refused to accept their silver medals under rumors that the game had been rigged, although no evidence has ever emerged to support this theory.
14| Scoreboard Cheating
In 1976, Soviet pentathlete Boris Onischenko took unsportsmanlike conduct to a whole new level. He installed a device in his fencing sword that, when activated, would cause the electronic scoring system to record a hit. The device was discovered and Onischenko and the rest of the Soviet pentathlete team were disqualified. Since the incident, Onischenko went into seclusion and has never made a public comment about it.
15| The 2002 Winter Olympic Bid Scandal
The most famous bribery case involving the Games is arguably the 2002 Winter Olympic Bid Scandal, where members of the IOC were accused of taking bribes from the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee during the bidding process. Ten members of the IOC were expelled and another ten were sanctioned in the wake of the scandal. Charges of bribery and fraud were brought against Tom Welch and Dave Johnson, the heads of the Salt Lake City committee. The accused were later acquitted, however, and Salt Lake hosted the Games.
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