An event that should be apolitical and without scandal is the Summer Olympics, but it's not even close.
Since the beginning of the modern Olympics in 1896, events have been questioned or outright shown to be wrong. Whether it’s judging or something that takes place, there always seems to be something controversial in the Olympics.
In the early days, the marathon seemed to be a hot mess. In 1904 in St. Louis, American Fred Lorz crossed the finish line first. However, it was discovered that he had ridden in a car for 10 miles of the 24.8-mile course. He had gotten tired, got the ride, recovered and decided to keep running. I can run a marathon like that.
The course was lengthened to 26 miles, 385 yards for the 1908 London Games. Dorando Pietri of Italy staggered into the stadium and fell several times before officials picked him up and carried him the remainder of the way. American Johnny Hayes finished second, but after protests that Pietri did not complete the distances on his own, Hayes was declared the winner.
Two Americans were affected in the 1912 games. Jim Thorpe won the decathlon and pentathlon, but had his medals stripped when it was discovered he had played semi-professional baseball one summer. One that people don't realize is that George S. Patton – yes, old “Blood and Guts” – was in the modern pentathlon with one of the events being pistol shooting. Patton used a .38-caliber pistol. He scored a miss, but many people today think that one of his shots passed through a hole in the target. He finished the event in 20th place and even with the points had he gotten a bull’s eye, he would not have earned a medal.
Perhaps the worst case of injustice took place in 1972's Munich Games. The American basketball team had never lost a game in the Olympics, but was facing a tough Soviet Union team. In the game, the Americans came back from a 10-point deficit.
With seconds left and his team down 49-48, Doug Collins stole a pass then was fouled as he attempted a layup. He sank the first free throw with three seconds left, and then as he was shooting the second, the horn blew from the officials’ table. Collins sank it to give the Americans a 50-49 lead.
Then, it got really crazy. The Soviets inbounded the ball, but their coaching staff claimed they had called time out. Then, the game resumed with the Soviets inbounding the ball and not being able to get off a clean shot.
But the officials ruled there were three seconds left. The official made Tom McMillen back up, although there was no rule against him guarding the inbound pass. The pass was completed and the Soviet center scored for a 51-50 victory.
In boxing during the 1988 Seoul Games, Roy Jones Jr. punched Park Si-Hun all around the ring for three rounds. He landed 85 punches to his opponent’s 35. And the judges gave the South Korean fighter a 3-2 win. One judge said he felt that it was going to be 5-0 and he didn't want to embarrass the fighter in his home country so he voted for him. OK.
In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, some of the Chinese women gymnasts still had baby teeth.
This year's Games, starting in two days, will be interesting. It would be nice if there were no questionable results or events. But looking at the past, that would be doubtful.
Brian Love is a Cleveland freelancer writer and former sports editor and sports copy editor.