Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Scandals of the Winter Olympic Games

Doping in Russia - Photo: Wikipedia
The Winter Olympic Games are highly anticipated as they bring the best athletes from all over the world to compete. While there is plenty of publicity that surrounds the Winter Olympic Games, some of it isn’t the type of attention that organizers want. The Olympic Games are to be a symbol of peace among countries and good sportsmanship. So when scandals emerge about cheating it really affects the overall perception that people have about the Olympics as a whole.

These types of scandals have been going on since the early days of the Winter Olympic Games though. In 1948 it was discovered that someone had tampered with the bobsleds of the USA team. It is a good thing it was discovered before the event because those responsible had loosened the bolts that hold the steering mechanisms in place. This would have resulted in a serious accident occurring. Those responsible for this act were never caught though and it left 1948 with some uneasy feelings in place. 

Germany did very well in the 1964 Winter Olympic Games. However, two people were stripped of their gold medals as it was discovered they were categorized as professionals. In 1968 it was discovered that East Germany had been heating up the runners on their sleds in the luge competition in order to beat the competition. 

Even if you don’t follow figure skating, chances are you know the Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan story that unfolded during the Winter Olympic Games in 1994. At one time these women had been friends on the ice but that quickly changed when Kerrigan was hit in the knees with a metal baton during a practice session. As a result, she wasn’t able to perform and Harding was given her place on the Olympic team. 

It was discovered that Harding’s ex-husband and a friend had planned the attack. Harding admitted she knew afterward but that she didn’t report the information. Kerrigan was able to perform at the 1992 Olympic Games and she walked away with the silver medal. She had the support of the entire world behind her it seemed due to what she had been through in order to even perform at the games. 

Hosting the Winter Olympic Games is quite an honor and one that brings plenty of attention and revenue to the area. In 2002 a scandal was discovered involving bribes paid for Salt Lake City, Utah to host the Winter Olympic Games. These bribes include numerous ski trips, real estate deals, and cash. Even though the scandal was investigated and several people resigned from the Winter Olympics Committee, the games still took place in Salt Lake City, Utah that year.

The area of figure skating was plagued once again in 2002 at the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. It is believed that some of the judges had been bribed to give high scores to the Russian team in exchange for their team getting high scores in another event. Everyone agreed that Canada should have gotten the gold medal. Eventually, they were given the gold but the Russian team was not stripped of theirs.

Coaching is an essential part of any good Winter Olympic team, and the reputation of these coaches is very important. Tim Nardiello is a coach for the USA team but he has been placed on leave. There are allegations of sexual harassment that have been filed by several females under his direction. The issue is being carefully investigated and the results of that will determine if he is reinstated as a coach for them or not.

Officials have worked very hard to make changes to how scores are calculated for the Winter Olympic Games. This is to make sure the weight of only one judge doesn’t affect the overall outcome of the results. They also continue to test all athletes to make sure they haven’t been using drugs to enhance their performance. The reputation of the Olympic Games is on the line each time such scandals arise, and with the power of the media these days you can be sure it will be National news. 

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