Olympics: The roll of dishonour

By Steven Holloway

World doubles champions Wang and Yu, and their South Korean opponents were booed loudly at the Olympics for appearing to try and lose their group match to earn an easier draw. Photo / AP
World doubles champions Wang and Yu, and their South Korean opponents were booed loudly at the Olympics for appearing to try and lose their group match to earn an easier draw. Photo / AP

When four badminton teams were kicked out of the London Games today for not trying it was the ultimate Olympic humiliation.

The eight doubles players from China, South Korea and Indonesia would have spent four years practicing, preparing and dreaming about their shot at Olympic gold, only to see it snatched away in the most shameful fashion.

All four teams were found guilty of trying to manipulate (lose) matches in their round-robin format to earn an easier match-up in the knockout round.

Their thinly disguised plan didn't fool anyone, and the crowds quickly voiced their displeasure as events unfolded - which included world class players routinely making the most basic errors.

The Badminton World Federation quickly stepped in and disqualified the athletes, who now face an un-enviable task of returning home to their families, supporters and sport with their tails firmly between their legs.

However they are not the first Olympians or athletes to have made an exceptionally poor error of judgment. Here is our top six.

Linford Christie

The 1992 Olympic 100-metre champion was disqualified at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics for making the same mistake twice.

At the Atlanta Games, any sprinter could false start once and get off with a warning. But Christie left early twice - and then delayed the competition by refusing to leave the track.

At a news conference soon after Christie said he was only waiting for confirmation that he had beaten the gun and that he did not intend to disrupt the start of the race.

Point Chevalier Pirates

Point Chevalier Pirates league team have been relegated to fifth in the Fox Memorial after being accused of tanking their final regular season match.

Pt Chev lost to Marist Saints 102-0 - setting up a finals rematch between the clubs at the expense of Papakura Sea Eagles, who were eliminated on points differential.

Pt Chev won the previous meeting between the clubs 48-16.

The Auckland Rugby League charged Pt Chev with bringing the game into disrepute for fielding a side consisting largely of third-team players.

The Pirates had made a deliberate attempt to influence whom they would face in their first finals match and had breached ARL rules by "failing to participate in a professional manner", an ARL release said.

Jane Saville

Australian race walker Jane Saville suffered Olympic heartbreak at the 2000 Sydney Olympics when her mistake on the home stretch of her 20km event cost her a certain gold medal.

Saville was just about to enter Stadium Australia, packed with 80,000 cheering Aussies when she received a red disc for an illegal gait (lifting both feet off the ground) - disqualifying her from the event.

Saville collapsed in tears, then afterward when asked what she needed, she replied "A gun to shoot myself."

Dorando Pietri

Pietri was an Italian athlete famous for his dramatic finish and eventual disqualification in the marathon at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London.

Pietri made a powerful surge 39 km into the 42km race which propelled him into a healthy lead - but also took its toll on his health. With two kilometres to go, Pietri began to feel the effects of extreme fatigue and dehydration.

When he entered the stadium, he took the wrong path and when umpires redirected him, he fell down for the first time. He got up with their help, in front of 75,000 spectators.
He fell four more times, and each time the umpires helped him up. In the end, though totally exhausted, he managed to finish the race in first place.

Of his total time of 2h 54min 46s, ten minutes were needed for that last 350 metres. Second was American Johnny Hayes. The American team immediately lodged a complaint against the help Pietri received from the umpires. The complaint was accepted and Pietri was disqualified and removed from the final standings of the race.

Konstantinos Kenteris

For the 2004 Athens Olympics, Kenteris was one of the hopes of the home crowd for winning a gold medal in athletics, and favourite to light the Olympic flame.

However, on the day prior to the Games, Kenteris and his training partner Ekaterini Thanou failed to attend a drug test.

While they claimed to have been injured in a motorcycle accident - in a frantic attempt to return to the Olympic village for the test upon hearing the news in the media - an official Greek investigation would later find that the alleged accident had been staged.

In the ensuing doping scandal, Kenteris and Thanou announced their withdrawal from the Games on August 18 after a hearing before the Disciplinary Commission of the IOC, for what they described to be "in the interests of the country."

Thomas Hamilton-Brown

At the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936, South African lightweight boxer Thomas Hamilton-Brown lost a first-round split decision.

Thinking that he had lost, he decided to eat his depression away. Meanwhile, one of the judges changed his score meaning Brown was declared the winner.

He was disqualified from his next fight after failing to make the weight.

- HERALD ONLINE

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