Winter Olympics

Friday, 15 February, 2002, 17:42 GMT
Controversy on the greatest stage
by Andy McKenzie

Canada's Jamie Sale and David Pelletier hearing the bad news
Sale and Pelletier got some good news eventually

The history of the Olympic Games is littered with sportsmen and women who consider themselves to have been robbed of a medal.

Skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier of Canada were just the latest in a long line of athletes left feeling cheated at sport's greatest event.

In 1972, the American basketball team were denied a gold in dubious circumstances. Sixteen years later Roy Jones Jr. handed out a pummelling to Korea's Si Hun Park at the 1988 Games in Seoul only to be rewarded with a silver by the judges. Jones still campaigns for the gold that he, and anyone else who saw that fight, believe is his.

Calls for a rematch between the US basketball team and their Russian rivals following that "defeat" in Munich 30 years ago never happened.

For most aggrieved athletes the message is: Grin and bear it. But that's not always the case, and the Salt Lake incident is not totally unprecedented. BBC Sport Online fingers through the archives to find five other examples of instances where the decisions were not final.

Jim Thorpe in action during the 1912 Olympics
Jim Thorpe was one of the
greatest athletes of all time

  • Jim Thorpe (USA) - Stockholm 1912

    After the Games it was discovered that Thorpe had been paid to play baseball in 1909 and 1910 and was therefore ineligible to compete in the amateur-only Olympics.

    His gold medals in the decathlon and the pentathlon were returned, but in 1983 his results were reinstated by the IOC and his medals were returned to his children.

  • Anders Haugen (USA) - Chamonix 1924

    Fifty years after the Games, it was discovered that an error in the scoring for the ski jumping had taken place.

    In 1974 Thorleif Haug of Norway was asked to return the bronze medal and it was awarded to Haugen, then aged 83, in a special ceremony in Oslo.

    Haug will not have been too disappointed - he picked up three golds at the same Games.

  • Marika Kilius and Hans-Jürgen Bäumler (GER) - Innsbruck 1964

    In a similar case to Thorpe's, the German pair were alleged to have signed a professional skating contract prior to the 1964 Winter Games in Austria.

    They were stripped of their medals in 1966 but were "rehabilitated" by the IOC in 1987 and the original result stood.

  • Carl Lewis (USA) - Seoul 1988

    Lewis was the beneficiary of one of the most infamous incidents in Olympic history, when Ben Johnson tested positive for the use of prohibited substances after he had raced away with the 100m gold in record time.

    Lewis was credited with the win and subsequently awarded the gold medal after trailing in second to Johnson.

  • Sylvie Fréchette (CAN) - Barcelona 1992

    An error was made when a Brazilian judge hit the wrong keys on the keyboard to record her score in the synchronized swimming event.

    In October 1993 Fréchette was awarded a gold medal and results now show that the Canadian shares first place with Kristen Babb Sprague of the United States.

    Read more articles by Andy McKenzie

    Copyright BBC

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