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Cheating in the Ancient Olympics Games

Cheating was not uncommon in the ancient Summer Games. Athletes used to rub themselves up with oil to protect their skin from dirt and sunlight. The wrestlers were not allowed to use oil. They were supposed to dust themselves with a powder. However, some wrestlers cheated by rubbing oil over some part of the body making it slippery for an opponent to grab. Such athletes used to be punished very severely.

Punishment for Athletes in ancient Summer Games

In the ancient Summer Games, there were rules for every game contested for. Those who cheated or violated the rules were disqualified from the contest. Along with the contestant, the trainer and the sponsoring city-state were also fined.

Cheaters could be punished by whipping or levying heavy fines on them. The money from these fines was used to construct bronze statues of Zeus. These statues were placed along the tunnel that leads to the stadium. Each statue's inscription told the cautionary tale of the offense. The athletes walked past these statues as a reminder of the importance of obeying the rules.

Recorded incidents of Cheating in ancient Summer Games

The first incident of cheating in the history of the ancient Summer Games occurred in 388 BC. Eupolus, the boxer of Thessaly, bribed three opponents to take a dive. He was fined with a huge amount of money to build six bronze statues of Zeus.

Some participants were induced to swap allegiance, often at the risk of exile from their homelands. Winners of the ancient Summer Games were known to bring religious favor and glory to their city-states. For this reason, many city-states tried to bribe athletes to participate in the games as their representative. The city-state of Syracuse was as notorious as New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in its quest for free agents that would bring religious favor and glory. When Syracuse induced sprint champion Astylos to quit Kroton in southern Italy, his admirers in the hometown tore down his statue and turned his house into a prison.

Olympic corruption reached the climax during the Roman reign. In 67 AD, Emperor Nero bribed the judges to include poetry reading in the schedule of the Summer Games as an event. The judges also declared Nero the chariot champion, despite his not finishing the race.

Last Updated On : May 31, 2016