5. Marion Jones – United States
Out of all of the athletes on the list, Marion Jones is definitely one who took the hardest fall, but it was entirely her fault. She had a blossoming career that was as successful as ever. Ever since high school she was racking up titles after her success in track and field. A very notable success was her win at the 100 m sprint at the CIF California State Meet; however, even at such a young age, Jones was accused of doping, though this time she had a great attorney. In 1992 at the age of 17, she was invited to compete in the Olympic trials, but she declined the invitation to be an alternate. Instead she competed in the IAAF World Junior Championships in Seoul, but didn’t place. She continued to compete in high school and then college competitions, earning various other titles. In 1997 she went to the World Championships in Athens and was able to score gold in the 100 m sprint. In 1998 at the IAAF World Cup she won gold in the 100 m and 200 m and silver in the long jump event. In 1999 she had continued success at the IAAF World Championships in Spain, earning a gold and silver medal.
The Losing Point
After years of success, Jones’ career would crash suddenly in 2000. Though she was highly successful at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, her past definitely came back to haunt her. Though she was able to get out of doping before, this time she was unsuccessful. Her husband, CJ Hunter, a shot putter, admitted to using steroids and confused that Jones had injected steroids during the 2000 Olympics. Jones continued to deny the accusations, but through careful look of her past, including her coaches, she was obviously guilty by association. After failing a drug test, Jones was forced to give up all of her earned titles from the 2000 Olympics and on. Total, she lost 6 medals. After the doping scandal, she was found to be involved in even more crime, including check fraud and perjury. In 2008 she was sentenced to 6 months in jail for her activities. Today, Jones has not returned to the field.
4. Ara Abrahamian – Sweden
Focusing on Greco-Roman wrestling, Ara Abrahamian was a highly successful wrestler during his time. He started to wrestle at the young age of 8 in Armenia. Here was able to earn the title of Armenian junior champion 3 times. In 1994 he went to Stockholm to compete in the Stockholm Junior Open. He left the Armenian team but eventually became part of the team located in Sweden. He first competed in the Olympic Games in 2000, but was unable to earn a medal as he placed 6th. However, the next year in 2001 he went to the European Championships and was able to win second place. His first gold medal win came in 2001 at the World Championships in Greece. He earned his last gold medal in the 2002 World Championships in Russia. Before and after this competition, he only won silver or bronze medals, or didn’t place at all.
The Losing Point
Unlike many other athletes on the list, Abrahamian wasn’t found to be doing illegal things. He wasn’t using steroids to enhance his performance or breaking any other serious offense like most athletes on the list. At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Abrahamian was up against tough opponents. After the judges finalized their scores, Abrahamian only came in third. However, he and his coach both disputed the scores and claimed the judges were being corrupt and unjust. The two called for a review of the match but this was declined. Come time for the awards ceremony, Abrahamian attended, but when he was handed his bronze medal, he shook the hands of the others, stepped off the podium, and placed it on the wrestling mat. He then chose to leave without his medal. Because of the incident, the IOC held a conference and decided that Abrahamian needed to be suspended for violating the spirit of fair play. He and his coach were to be banned for 2 years, but this was overturned in 2009.
3. Lyudmyla Blonska – Ukraine
Some people just don’t learn the first time and Lyudmyla Blonska is the perfect example. Born in the Ukraine, Blonska became well known as a long jumper and a pentathlete. From age 5 to 10, she practiced gymnastics, then basketball, and then judo and cycle racing. When she was 14 she was introduced to athletics and since then, never looked back. At the age of 16, she entered the Ukrainian Youth Championships in Odessa and competed in the heptathlon event and was able to win a silver medal. In 1995 she moved to Kiev where she began to really focus on her athletic career. She eventually went to college and became a certified teacher of physical culture and trainer. In 2000 she got married and in 2001 she became a mother.
The Losing Point
After such life-changing events, Blonska decided to get back into her sport. She was able to win the National Championship in May 2002 and was then invited to the European Championships in Munich, but she was unable to place. Despite only coming in 13th, Blonska, soon after the race, tested positive for steroids, and even though she wanted to appeal her two year ban, she did not have the money to do so. Before her ban was over she had another child, but again returned to the sport. At the 2005 Universiade in Turkey, she won gold but didn’t place in the 2006 European Championships. That same year she won the pentathlon event at the 2006 World Indoor Championships. At the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Blonska ran her way to a second place win and then trained to enter the Beijing Olympics in 2008. At the Olympics, she was able to win another silver medal in the heptathlon. However, she was found guilty of doping for the second time. Because this was her second offense, she was quickly banned and was thrown out of the Games entirely. Today she is banned, for a lifetime, from any type of competitive athletic sports.
2. Alain Baxter – United Kingdom
Alain Baxter is a very successful and well known skier from Scotland. He is especially great when it comes to the slalom. Both of his parents were British Ski Team members, so it seems he definitely took after their skills. In 1991 at just 16, he was chosen to be on the British Alpine Ski Team. Despite his young age, he was able to climb the ranks and make his way up, breaking records and setting his own. Just 7 years after making the ski team, Baxter was able to rank in the top 100 times during the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics. However, the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics proved to be both successful and horrible for Baxter.
The Losing Point
At the Olympics in 2002, Baxter was able to make British history by becoming the first skier from Britain to earn a medal in alpine skiing. Despite it being a bronze medal, the country had never placed in this sport. To show his pride, Baxter spray-painted the flag of Scotland into his hair, but the Olympic Association out of Britain asked him to remove it since he was representing the U.K., but the dye was still visibly seen. After his win, Baxter returned back home to crowds celebrating his success. After returning home Baxter was notified that he had failed a drug test and that a small amount of methamphetamine was found. The IOC of course disqualified him from the sport and had him return his medal, which was eventually returned to him by Raich, the original 4th place winner.
Baxter did state that he used a Vicks inhaler in the U.S. to use and he was unaware that the ones made in the U.S. had different ingredients. The IOC accepted his explanation and only banned him for 3 months. Since the controversy Baxter has returned to the sport, but has yet to break his Salt Lake City record.
1. Jim Thorpe – United States
During his time, Jim Thorpe was said to be one of the best athletes. He seemed to be all-around good at anything and everything he played. When Thorpe participated in the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden he participated in the pentathlon and the decathlon. Both were relatively new sports but he was entirely fitted for them. He also participated in the long jump and high jump. Despite being new to the sport, Thorpe earned a gold medal in the pentathlon and then the same day went on to quality for the long and high jumps, but did not earn a medal in these competitions. His last event was the decathlon and here he won gold as well. He even received to challenge prizes from Kings Gustav V of Sweden and Nicholas II of Russia.
The Losing Point
However, despite his obvious success, Thorpe wouldn’t be keeping his medals. During 1913, there were rules set that said those who were sports teachers, once competed against professionals, or received money prizes for competitions were not amateurs, therefore not allowed to compete. Somehow news came out that Thorpe had played professional baseball, making his wins disqualifiable. Thorpe did in fact play professional ball for the Eastern Carolina League in 1909-1910 and made very little money, probably about $47 a game in today’s dollar terms. But, it’s been proven that Thorpe wasn’t the only one to play professionally; many of the athletes did, they just used aliases.
In the end Thorpe’s medals were taken away, despite the fact that the IOC did not obey their own rules, which stated complaints had to be made within 30 days of the ending Olympic ceremony. Thorpe wasn’t brought up until 6 months after. Thorpe died without his medals, but in 1982, the IOC gave his 2 children commemorative medals, as the originals were stolen and have yet to be found.