Home » Death, prison … These crazy doping stories at the Olympics

Death, prison … These crazy doping stories at the Olympics

by archyw

More than 400 participants were banned from competing or disqualified for doping at the Games, resulting in the modification of 129 podiums. Here are some stories of doping that marked the Olympic Games and accompanied its increasing recognition since 1967, favored by the progress of tests and the conservation of samples.

Marion Jones spent six months in prison in 2008.


Jensen’s death

1960: Danish cyclist Knud Jensen falls in a heatwave during the road race at the Rome Games, then dies in hospital, and his trainer admits to giving him a massive dose of stimulants. His death, followed by that of Tom Simpson during the 1967 Tour de France, prompted the IOC to set up a medical commission and to issue a list of prohibited products.

The first doping controls of the Games were carried out in 1968, in Grenoble and Mexico, and the first disqualified was a Swedish pentathlete, Hans Gunnar Liljenwall, for alcohol use: the bronze he won by team went to France.

Johnson shock

1988: Canadian Ben Johnson caused a sensation by winning the 100m in 9”79, a new world record, ahead of American star Carl Lewis. The announcement the same evening of his positive test for stanozolol (anabolic steroid) caused a huge scandal, of unparalleled magnitude in the middle of the Olympic celebration, and shattered his career.

The steroids remain by far the most represented product in the sanctions for doping at the Games: 225 of the 401 cases listed by AFP, ahead of the class of stimulants (50) including amphetamines.

From gold to prison

2000: American shot putter CJ Hunter is banned from the Sydney Games after testing positive for nandrolone, while his wife Marion Jones wins five medals, including three gold.

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But seven years later, cornered by American justice, the American sprinter admits to having taken steroids made to measure by the Balco laboratory. The IOC takes away all of her medals, and her lies lead her to spend six months in prison in 2008.

Faux accident

2004: Greek sprinters Costas Kenteris and Ekaterini Thanou, respectively reigning Olympic champion in the 200m and vice-Olympic champion in the 100m, invent a motorcycle accident after missing an unexpected doping control on the eve of the Athens Games, with the support of two alleged witnesses and seven doctors justifying their retention in hospital.

Their incredible story also marks an era of intensified controls, intended to tighten the net around cheaters and reinforced by the conservation of samples for new tests. Sydney-2000 has thus experienced 24 doping cases, Athens-2004 36, Beijing-2008 84 and London-2012 136.

The Russian soap opera

2014: sumptuous, the Sochi Winter Olympics are a sporting triumph for the Russian hosts, at the top of the medal table with 33 podiums for 13 titles. But, two years later, the ex-director of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory confesses to a system of state cheating for years, admitting to having withheld the Russian urine samples during the Games with the help of the secret services for them. replace with previously stored “clean” urine.

At the end of 2017, the IOC therefore decided to disqualify 43 Russian competitors in Sochi and to withdraw 13 medals. But in early 2018 the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) cleared 28 of these athletes for “insufficient evidence”.


Following a new scandal, with the falsification of data from the Moscow anti-doping laboratory, Russia was suspended at the end of 2020 for the Tokyo Olympics and those of 2022 in Beijing. Its athletes will however be able to compete under a neutral banner … if they have not been individually convicted of doping.

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