10 Olympic villains who were worse than Solo

by Gary Shelton on August 15, 2016 · 0 comments

in general, Olympics

Monday, 6 a.m.

Hope Solo is a lunkhead. Everyone can agree on that.

Let's admit it. She's a bad sport. A whiner. A baby. Even worse, she comes across as a borderline bad guy. You won't win a lot of allies defending her.

But is she really one of the worst athletes we have ever seen at the Olympics?

Hardly.

At this point, it's hard to defend Solo. Even her defenders

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would be challenged to defend her polarizing nature. She is self-centered, and she is prone to say the worst thing at the worst time.

After the U.S. Women's soccer team lost, she whined loud and hard about the conservative Swedish team. Cowards, she called them. To the Swedes, that had to be almost as much fun as winning. Doesn't everyone love to beat the loudmouth out of their opponents.

But except for being a brat, is Solo really annoying on a historic scale?

It made me think. Who are the worst villains in the history of the Olympics?

Ten Olympians who were worse than Solo. Which, of course, is saying something.

1. Tonya Harding, United States: The first day I ever covered figure skating, in the first 30 minutes I was in the arena, thugs attacked Nancy Kerrigan. Turns out, the mastermind (?) of the operation was Harding, a thug-tough skater who wanted to make sure she went to Lillehammer. Harding later was a boxer who once pulled out of a match against a transgender athlete, saying it was beneath her dignity. The promoter's response? “What dignity?”

2. Ben Johnson, Canada: There have been a lot of steroid users, but none were as blatant as Johnson. Johnson ran a blistering 9.79 in Seoul, but tested positive for stanozolol. Johnson's defense was that he used steroids to keep up with his competitors; in the years to come, six of the eight runners in that race tested positive at one point or the other.

3. Dora Ratjen, Germany: Thirty-six years before Bruce Jenner (who later rose to greater fame) won his gold medal, Henrich Ratjen, a man, competed in the '36 Olympics as a woman. Later discovered to be working as a man named Hermann, Ratjen said the Nazis forced him to live as a woman. "For three years I lived the life of a girl. It was most dull."

4. Marion Jones, United States: Jones was well-rehearsed when it came to defending herself against drug charges. However, she was implicated in years of abuse in the BALCO scandal. Jones admitted lying to federal officials and returned her five medals from the Sydney Olympics.

5. Fred Lorz, United States: In the 1904 Olympics, Lorz cramped up early in the marathon. So he hitched a ride with his manager after cramping up. After the car broke down after 10 miles, he got out, resumed the race and crossed the finish line first. The oddity? He won the Boston Marathon in 1905; later, Rosie Ruiz had tried to win that race by fraud.

6. The Paralympic Team, Spain: How low can you get? The Spanish Paralympic team won basketball gold despite having able-bodied competitors. Of the 12 players who claimed “intellectual disability,'' only two had IQs lower than 75, the level used to declare someone a Paralympian. Several had university degrees.

7. Boris Onischenko, Russia: Give credit to Onischenko. At least he put some thought into cheating. He rigged his epee so it would register a hit when he pushed a button while competing. The British tabloids nicknamed him “Dishonischenko.”

8. Madeline de Jesus, Puerto Rico: In the 1984 games, Madeline was injured. The injury was going to keep her from competing in the 400-meter relays. So she subbed her twin sister, Margaret. Her ploy worked to a degree. Puerto Rico advanced. But when her coach realized what had happened, he pulled his team and forfeited.

9. Michelle Smith, Ireland: Smith had a thoroughly mediocre swimming career until suddenly winning three golds in the Atlanta games, causing  U.S. swimmer Janet Evans to suggest she was doping. Those charges gained life two years later when Smith was caught tampering with her urine sample.

10. East German Swimmers: In 1976, East German women won 10 of the 12 medals available. Years later, coaches would admit it was due to a regimen of steroids, although no athletes were identified. It was no surprise to U.S. swimmer  Shirley Babashoff, who spoke out at the time. One footnote: Former shot-putter Heidi Krieger took so many steroids she lost her femininity; she now lives as a man.

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