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Top 10 Winter Olympic Villains Who Still Cop Hate To This Very Day

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Top 10 Winter Olympic Villains Who Still Cop Hate To This Very Day

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

By Ryan Rosendale

While every Winter Olympic Games sees the opportunity for new heroes to emerge, it also presents the opportunity for the birth of the controversial and hated.

Some may be only be hated by a particular fanbase or by a large majority, but the following ten Winter Olympic villains are the ones whose names are still marred in controversy.

10. Alberto Tomba - 1988 Calgary Games

An athlete that crosses Winter Games from 1988 to 1994, alpine skier Alberto Tomba was known worldwide as "La Bomba", for his outlandish and flamboyant nature who was also a damn good skier too. The Italian won three gold medals in his Olympic career, two in 1988 in Calgary and one in 1992 in Albertville, while also adding silvers in 1992 and in 1994 in Lillehammer. But he is most famously known for declaring himself the "Messiah of Skiing" in 1988 and his daring attempt at asking out fellow Olympian Katariina Witt following one of her figure skating performances. While not necessary a villain on the slopes, many consider Tombas' personality off it to be very embracive.

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

09. Katarina Witt - 1988 Calgary Games

German figure skater, Katarina Witt, was a villain in her own right, with her rivalry with American Debi Tomas the contributing factor towards her hatred. The two faced off at the 1988 Calgary Games with each of them performing their long program to the same music from Bizet's opera Carmen. Thomas walked away with bronze while Witt would claim the gold and the hatred of the American public with their rivalry known worldwide as the "Battle of the Carmens".

08. Sidney Crosby - 2010 Vancouver Games

Another Olympian that would be hated by the American public following a Winter Games was three-time Stanley Cup champion, Canadian Sidney Crosby. The NHL star would lead his country into the ice hockey final against the U.S. at the Vancouver Games and would break American hearts when he found the back of the net in overtime just minutes after the USA's Zach Parise stunned the home ground with the tying goal in the final minute of regulation. The Canadian victory would mean the U.S. have still not won hockey gold since Lake Placid in 1980.

07. Kei Saito - 2018 PyeongChang Games

Japanese short track speed skater Kei Saito became a villain without even competing in PyeongChang after he returned a positive doping test days before competition was due to begin.

Saito was said to be surprised by his positive result, saying "I have consulted with medical experts to treat any injuries or sickness in advance, and I have paid attention to my daily consumption of drinks and food."

"I have no merit and motivation for using this drug. I cannot think of any other case than I accidentally and unintentionally took it in."

06. Ross Rebagliati - 1998 Nagano Games

Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati instantly became a worldwide Olympic villain when he was stripped of his Parallel Giant Slalom gold just three days after the event for testing positive for marijuana while competing. Rebagliati claimed to have ingested it second-hand at a party and the Canadian Olympic delegation successfully appealed the IOC's decision on the basis that marijuana isn't a performance-enhancing drug. He got his medal back before the Games ended but given he marred the debut of snowboarding in controversy, he definitely deserves a place on this list.

Ross Rebagliati. Credit: Alamy
Ross Rebagliati. Credit: Alamy

05. Olga Medvedtseva - 2006 Turin Games

Russian biathlete, a sport involving a cross between cross-country skiing and rifle shooting, Olga Medvedtseva, won silver in 15km individual race but days later she was disqualified from further competition for testing positive to carphedon. The IOC panel found her guilty, and she was expelled from the games and stripped of her medal. She was then banned for two years from competition, and the authorities in Turin started a criminal investigation into the matter. The head of the Russian Anti-Doping Committee claimed that Pyleva took an over-the-counter medication for an ankle injury prescribed by her personal doctor who is not a team doctor, which contained carphedon.

04. Marie-Rene Le Gounge - 2002 Salt Lake City Games

This entry comes in the form of not a competitor but a judge. French figure skating judge Marie-Rene Le Gounge was one of the officials during the figure skating final which ended in controversy when Russian competitors Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze made noticeable errors in their long program and while Canadians Jamie Salé and David Pelletier performed a flawless routine and somehow still lost 5-4 on judges votes.

The result caused Canadian officials to file a protest which found Le Gounge had been pressured by her own national committee to throw her vote for the Russians. The final outcome saw Le Gougne suspended for three years, the Canadians awarded a second pair of gold medals, and the sport underwent reform with judges' scores being kept secret and chosen at random.

Olga Medvedtseva. Credit: Alamy
Olga Medvedtseva. Credit: Alamy

03. Ortrun Enderlein - 1968 Grenoble Games

The first legitimate case of cheating not involving drugs on this list comes from 1968 Grenoble Games. It occurred when defending luge champion Ortrun Enderlein and her two East German teammates aroused suspicion by showing up just before their runs and leaving the scene hastily after. Enderlein won gold and her teammates placed 3rd and 4th, but upon closer inspection, it was discovered that their sleds had been heated immediately before the races, which reduced friction with the ice and resulted in faster times. The three were disqualified and stripped of their medals.

02. Russia - 2018 PyeongChang Games

Months out from the 2018 PyeongChang Games, the IOC announced that the Russian Olympic Committee had been suspended effective immediately from the 2018 Winter Olympics due to state sponsored doping. Athletes who had no previous drug violations and a consistent history of drug testing were to be allowed to compete under the Olympic Flag as an "Olympic Athlete from Russia" (OAR). The move became one of the biggest decisions the IOC had ever made given they had basically banned an entire nation from Olympic representation but given the severity of the scandal, the decision was definitely warranted.

01. Tonya Harding - 1994 Lillehammer Games

One of the winter Olympics most infamous competitors, figure skater Tonya Harding is known worldwide for what became known as the 'Nancy Kerrigan incident'. During a crucial practice to determine who would make the American figure skating team, a henchman hired by Harding's ex-husband and bodyguard struck her teammate Nancy Kerrigan in the leg. Both Kerrigan and Harding still competed in Lillehammer with Harding's knowledge of the attack proved post-competition. She was fined, received three years of probation, and never skated competitively again. The incident is one of the Games most well-known and was made into a feature film in 2017 titled I, Tonya.

Topics: Winter Olympics news, Australia, Winter Olympics, top 10

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