Summary of the IOC Re-Testing from 2008-2012 – To Date

Over the last few months, the media has been awash with stories about positive doping findings from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) mandated re-testing of the samples from the London and Beijing Games, using more modern methods of detecting performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). It has been difficult to follow, as the press releases from the IOC have come in flurries, and there is confusion as to how many athletes have been affected and how many medals will be re-distributed.

To date, however, there has not been a summary of the number of positive tests, the types of substances used, and which sports and nations were most affected. Although there were some suspicions based on the press releases, it seems appropriate to produce such a summary, although admittedly, it may well be a work in progress, as the re-testing is ongoing.

First of all, our sources are mainly the IOC press releases and releases from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). All of the IOC press releases can be found at https://www.olympic.org/news/press-releases. The IOC press releases contain summaries of the decisions, but at the end of each summary they note “The full decision is available here” with a link to a PDF of the full decision. CAS decisions are available on their website http://www.tas-cas.org/en/index.html, under Jurisprudence –> Recent Decisions, or Database. Only cases that have been appealed to the CAS will have a ruling by that body. In a few cases, in attempting to find the specific substances named, we have relied on press reports, although that has been rare.

Now to the summary. The decisions have been coming from the IOC since April of this year, with the most recent one released on 25 November 2016. During that time 99 athletes from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics have been sanctioned on re-testing for PED use. There are actually 104 cases, as 5 athletes have tested positive for both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, as follows:

  • Hripsime Khurshudyan (F­­–ARM / WLT)
  • İntiqam Zairov (M–AZE / WLT)
  • Oksana Menkova (F–BLR / ATH)
  • Ilya Ilyin (M–KAZ / WLT)
  • Maiya Maneza (F–KAZ / WLT)

Here is the breakdown by nations of the 104 offenses:

NOC ###
Russia 33
Belarus 13
Kazakhstan 12
Ukraine 12
Turkey 8
Azerbaijan 6
Armenia 4
China 3
Moldova 3
Cuba 2
Colombia 1
Spain 1
Georgia 1
Greece 1
Morocco 1
Qatar 1
Slovenia 1
Uzbekistan 1
Total 104

Of note, fully 86 of the 104, or 82.7%, come from nations from the former Soviet Union.

Which sports have been the most affected? If you’ve been following this, you surely realize that athletics (track & field) and weightlifting seem to have been mentioned the most, and that is accurate. In fact, 92.3% of the sanctions have come from those two sports, with athletics having 49 offenses, and weightlifting 47. The others sanctions have come from wrestling (5), cycling (2), and swimming (1).

What have they been taking? The various sanctions have been for 14 different substances, in many cases with the athlete(s) taking 2 or more PEDs, but by far the most frequently used PEDs were Turinabol (64 cases) and Stanozolol (36 cases). The full breakdown is as follows:

Substance(s) / Violation(s) ###
Dehydrochloromethyltestosterone (Turinabol) 64
Stanozolol 36
Biological passport offense 14
Oxandrolone 7
GHRP-2 3
Acetazolamide 2
Drostanolone 2
EPO 2
3a-hydroxy-5a-androst-1-en-17-one 1
Ipamorelin 1
Methandienone 1
Methylhexanamine 1
Sibutramine 1
Tamoxifen 1
Grand Total 136

The total is much more than 104 because of the athletes taking multiple substances. Also note that 14 cases are for abnormalities in the biological passport, in which cases we do not always know the precise substances involved.

Of the above, Turinabol, Stanozolol, Oxandrolone, Drostanolone, Methandienone, and 3a-hydroxy-5a-androst-1-en-17-one (there will not be a pop quiz on this) are anabolic steroids. GHRP-2 is a type of growth hormone releasing peptide, a stronger analogue of the older GHRP-6, with fewer side effects.

EPO is erythropoietin, which increases red blood cell volume, and thus may increase oxygen carrying capacity by the blood, and is usually used by endurance athletes. One of these cases was used by a mountain biking cyclist, Blaža Klemenčič (SLO), but the other case was in a Russian weightlifter.

Ipamorelin is not often detected but stimulates growth hormone secretagogue receptors, which then stimulate growth hormone release. Methylhexanamine is a sympathomimetic drug, meaning it stimulates the sympathetic nervous system – the section of the nervous system responsible for the “fight or flight” phenomenon. It is used as a stimulant or dietary supplement and may be helpful in keeping weight down.

Acetazolamide is a diuretic which increases urine formation. It has no performance enhancing effects, but is used by athletes to dilute the urine, and thus decrease the concentration of other drugs in the urine, ostensibly to allow them to defeat the tests.

Finally, tamoxifen affects estrogen receptors and is best known as a treatment for women with breast cancer. It is used by athletes to mask the effects of anabolic steroids, especially gynecomastia, or production of breast tissue in men.

By far the two biggies above are Turinabol and Stanozolol. Turinabol was invented in the former East Germany (GDR) – no big shock there. It’s chemical name is variably known as dehydrochloromethyltestosterone, or chlorodehydromethyltestosterone. It is a derivative of testosterone, the male anabolic-androgenic steroid, which has been modified by attachment of a hydroxyl group (-OH), a choride ion (-Cl), and a methyl group (-CH3) to the basic sterol molecule. Turinabol was the main drug used the East German state-sponsored doping program, as later revealed by the release of documents from the Stasi, or East German secret police.

Stanozolol is another anabolic-androgenic steroid created by modifying the testosterone molecule by the addition of a hydroxyl group and three methyl groups. Stanozolol was best known by bodybuilders and other strength athletes as Winstrol, and was the drug that caused Ben Johnson to have a positive doping test after the 1988 Seoul Olympics 100 metre final.

It should be noted that despite many rumors about poor drug testing programs in Kenya and Ethiopia, which could benefit their outstanding distance runners, there were no positive re-tests from either of those nations. Now, one could argue that those athletes would be most likely to use EPO, and tests for that are difficult, and involve checking for reticulocytes (a type of immature red blood cell) in the blood. After 4 or 8 years, it’s not certain how valid that test would be.

One question many people have is how many medals will be lost and who will they go to? The second part of that is difficult to answer and we’ll address it in a bit. In all, 52 medals have been lost because of the re-testing – 14 golds, 18 silvers, 20 bronzes. The most affected athlete is Kazakh weightlifter Ilya Ilyin, who loses gold medals from both 2008 and 2012. In this case, weightlifting is much more affected than athletics, losing 35 medals (8 golds, 7 silvers, 18 bronzes) to athletics’ 17.

Here are the nations most affected in terms of medals lost:

NOC Medals
Russia 19
Kazakhstan 9
Belarus 6
Ukraine 5
China 3
Armenia 2
Moldova 2
Turkey 2
Azerbaijan 1
Cuba 1
Greece 1
Uzbekistan 1

So who will these medals go to. Sorry, can’t help you there yet, at least not officially. The way that medals are redistributed is Byzantine and complex. First, the International Federations (IFs) are responsible for changing results, not the IOCs. But it is the IOC that re-distributes medals, so we often have to wait for word from both the IF and the IOC. It is not always as easy as moving up the next placed athlete to a medal position, although that is the most common scenario. But the IOC has left medal positions empty in the past, going as far back as 1972. Further, not every athlete who competes is drug tested, so for the famous example from weightlifting where the original 9th-place finisher (Tomasz Zielinski [POL]) in the 2012 94 kg class could move up to bronze medal position, was Zielinski even subjected to drug testing? We don’t know as that is not always released.

These athletes did break the rules and this certainly looks terrible, but it’s important to remember one thing about this. The IOC tries to catch the drug cheats, more so than in most professional sports, notably in the four major pro sports in the United States (although baseball has gotten much better in recent years). Further, the WADA penalties are far more punitive than those in US professional sports, notably the NFL where a positive drug test costs you 4 games, or ¼th of a season, versus 2 years or more in Olympic sports. It is easy to criticize the IOC for this plethora of positive tests, but one should also note that they took the trouble to do the re-testing, something we will almost never see from the NFL or most professional sports.

The game goes on. The athletes will often look for an advantage, or “The Edge,” and the drug testers will continue to try to catch them. This is certainly far from the last we will hear on this problem.

 

Media Schedule for Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics

Amazingly, the 2018 Winter Olympics are only 17 months away. This does not give US media much time to start writing about the 2018 Winter Games, so I have prepared a primer to help them. This does not apply to the US international sports media, such as Phil Hersh, Chris Clarey, Tim Layden, Alan Abrahamson, Nick Zaccardi, Chris Brennan, and several others, who understand the Olympics. But for the bulk of the US media, who are upset that they are not allowed to cover the only sport they know anything about, football (this means you, Mike & Mike), the following should help you focus on the topics you need to write about prior to Pyeongchang.

February 2017 – It is 1 year before Games, and you have been assigned by your sports editor to cover the Olympic beat for the next year, because they already have 37 reporters covering football, so you need to start looking for negative things to write

March 2017 – investigate the costs of the 2018 Winter Olympics – if under control, ignore this and write nothing about it; if costs seem exorbitant, start a series of “investigative” articles on this topic

April 2017 – look for problems with environmental aspects of building venues for 2018 Winter Olympics. If none exist, ignore this and write nothing about it. If there appear to be damages to the environment anywhere within several planets of Pyeongchang, start a series of “investigative” articles in this topic

May 2017 – begin discussions with people who live in the area of Pyeongchang and ask questions if they have had any negative effects from the forthcoming Olympic Games. If they have nothing to report on that topic, ignore it and either write nothing about it, or consider embellishing something on the topic to fill some space in the paper. If anyone, anywhere, in Korea or the Pacific Rim, has anything negative to say, begin a series of “investigative” articles on this topic

June 2017 – look for problems with the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee, specifically looking for any evidence of corruption in the OCOG. If any leader of the Pyeongchang OCOG has left office or retired for some unknown reason, that is an obvious sign that some corruption or fraud has occurred. If nothing can be found on this topic, ignore it, and write stories about FIFA, talking about how corrupt they are, and add in filler information on corruption within the IOC, and extrapolate that to explain to people why the Pyeongchang OCOG is likely corrupt. If any corruption is found within the OCOG, begin a series of “investigative” articles on this topic.

July 2017 – look for evidence of rare diseases within Korea or the Pacific Rim. If any of them have ever had deleterious effects on human beings, or other species, at any time within this millennium, or the previous one, begin interviewing every infectious disease expert in the Northern Hemisphere. If none of them think this is really a problem, expand this search to the Southern Hemisphere. Once you have found one medical expert who thinks this rare disease is a reason why the 2018 Winter Olympics should be cancelled, begin a series of “investigative” articles on this topic. It will help if you can find someone who had the disease and interview them on the terrible effects the disease caused. A child or a baby who had the disease is even better. If no one can be found who says this, interview anyone who had the disease, and explain why it could have caused serious problems. If you are unable to do this well, discuss with plaintiff attorneys who advertise on late night television. If you are unable to find any evidence of a rare disease affecting Korea and which may impact the 2018 Winter Olympics, return to the investigative topics you have begun in March through June.

August 2017 – water is an important topic at any Olympic Games. Investigate further environmental effects on the water in the Pyeongchang area. If none are found, investigate water in the Pyongyang area – they are not the same city, or even in the same country, but you may not have realized this yet. Have someone do bacterial and viral analyses of water in the area, which worked well in Rio. Because all water has some degree of bacteria and viruses, you will find something here that you can probably write about for several months in an “investigative” series of articles about why the Olympics should be moved from Pyeongchang, or Pyongyang, or whichever city you think they will be held in.

September 2017 – the Games are only 5 months away now so it is imperative that you have written something negative about the Olympic Games by now. If you have not, you might consider a different line of work than as a US (non-Olympic beat) sportswriter. Specifically you should consider going back to writing about college or professional football, where you are able to pronounce all the names (even Brett Favre and T. J. Houshmandzadeh) and everything about the sports are wonderful to the US media. Specifically nobody ever takes any PEDs, although compared to Olympic athletes, they are never actually tested to any degree.

October 2017 – Speaking of PEDs if you have not been able to write much negative yet about the Olympics, now is a good time to focus on doping and drug usage and how many Olympic athletes are caught for doping. Remember to neglect the fact that the IOC, the IFs, and WADA / USADA test far more frequently and more stringently than the NFL, MLB, the NBA, and NHL. None of those athletes could actually be taking drugs because Roger Goodell and Adam Silver would never allow negative publicity concerning their athletes. You should be able to write multiple good stories about PED use in Olympic athletes.

November 2017 – now is the time to focus on the weather and the lack of snow in Pyeongchang. You can write this story whether it is true or not, because it always play well before a Winter Olympics, and you can always work a connection with climate change, or global warming, or whatever is the correct PC term. Stories about lots of snowmaking going on or the military bringing in snow will work well. Although it is late for your “investigative” stories, you could get several stories on why the IOC should not have given the 2018 Winter Olympics to Pyeongchang because it is not actually a winter resort. Although it is, Pyongyang is not, but that doesn’t really matter, because its in West Korea, or someplace like that.

December 2017 – you’re running out of time. You’ve looked at various problems concerning the 2018 Winter Olympics so now is a good time to roll out the articles on why the Games should be moved from Pyeongchang (or Pyongyang in East Germany, or wherever they are), because of the multiple problems. Here it always works well to enlist a US congressperson or senator who 1) is demanding that the Games be moved; 2) thinks they should be cancelled and the US hold its own Olympics; 3) has no idea where the IOC is based, or who is in it, but he/she knows that they are corrupt, although they have no idea what an NOC, IF, OCOG, or NGB is; 4) is in a tenuous race for re-election and could really use some television exposure, which he/she will get from going after the Olympics and the IOC. A good question to ask and focus on here with the legislator is, “Should the Olympics be held at one central site every 4 years instead of moving them to different cities?” Nobody has ever suggested that before.

January 2018 – time is really short. It looks like the 2018 Winter Olympics may actually be held in Pyeongchang, so now is the time to see if you recognize some of the names of the athletes who will be competing. A good story to focus on will be Michael Phelps, the surfer who will be going after his 73rd gold medal in Pyeongchang – oh wait, since he was a surfer maybe that’s the Summer Olympics, but it doesn’t really matter. Nobody knows who any of the Olympic athletes are anyway because we/you never tell anybody about them except during the Olympics, and even if we did, we can’t spell their names or pronounce them correctly, because they’re from foreign countries, like East Korea, where NFLer T. J. Houshmandzadeh is from.

February 2018 – ba-da-bing. The 2018 Winter Olympics are a reality. They are held for 2 weeks from 9-25 February 2018 in Pyeongchang, Korea (not North Korea). There is plenty of snow, and nobody gets any disease. There are no major problems with the venues and the athletes put on superb athletic performances. Everybody enjoys themselves for 2 weeks and athletes and officials from 100s of nations get together in peace and have a wonderful time. The Koreans citizens enjoy them greatly, and wish they could hold more Olympic Games in the future. Try to avoid these facts in any of your stories.

Post 2018 Winter Olympics – time to write your summing up articles. Focus on how you actually knew that the Games would run perfectly and be held superbly. You’re not even sure who could have written anything differently. Similar to US politicians, who will use this opportunity to get photo ops with our Olympic athletes, whose names they cannot pronounce, and will likely mis-pronounce on videos, you should use this time to suck up to some of the gold medalists and write first person articles about them. It could work out well for you, because maybe there’s a book in there for you, and after all, haven’t you always loved the Olympics?

Late 2018-2019 – the book deal didn’t work out, because you kept mispronouncing the name of the gold medalist you were trying to suck up to. Your sports editor has still not realized what a boon you would be to college football coverage and you are still stuck on this God-forsaken international sports beat. Time to look into stories on the problems coming up with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Surely these will exist because Tokyo had the Olympics before, you seem to recall it was in 1967, so they certainly must have been corrupt back then. Start writing stories about why the 2020 Olympics should be moved to another site. Pyeongchang, Korea would be good, and its close by and its your favorite city.

The OlyMADMen and OlympStats and Sports-Reference

So who am I and who are all these crazy people I work with doing Olympic stats? I do most of the posts on Olympstats, but you will see some posts from Hilary Evans and Jeroen Heijmans. Hilary, Jeroen, and I work in a group of 14 Olympic statistorians (my own term), who have been working on Olympic statistics for many years. We call ourselves the OlyMADMen, which reflects our crazy infatuation with collecting data about the Olympic Games.

I started collecting Olympic stats back in 1964 – yes, I am that old – when I was 12-years-old. This coalesced into real data in the early 1980s when I got my first PC. In the late 1990s I joined with two Norwegians Arild Gjerde and Magne Teigen to combine our work into databases of all Olympic results and all Olympic athletes. Also helping us was David Foster, a British Olympic expert. Jeroen Heijmans (aka Geronimo) joined us in about 2002 – this was important, for Jeroen is an IT specialist in his day job, and helped us convert our databases into an online web site. This became our private web site, www.olympedia.org, which we still use today as our private research site.

In about 2007-2008 we were joined by Hilary Evans, aka the Crazy Welsh Sheep Farmer, and Estonian Taavi Kalju. Both are dedicated genealogists who helped us find a plethora of new info on some of the older Olympians.

Over the next decade we were joined by three Germans – Wolf Reinhardt, Ralf Regnitter, and Ralph Schlüter; Austrian Martin Kellner, and two more Norwegians, Morten Aarlia Torp and Stein Opdahl. We then added Paul Tchir, an Arabic studies specialist, aka Canadian Paul. Paul is also the world’s expert on oldest living Olympians. In the last few years the OlyMADMen expanded to include Ian Morrison, from Britain but now living in Mallorca, Spain; and Canadian Michele Walker, our first female “OlyMADMan” a name for which we now apologize to Michele.

Our level of expertise, and the comprehensive nature of our data, is pretty high. Do we make mistakes? Sadly, yes, because we are 14 humans, but we have more data and stats and expertise on the Olympics than any similar group. We have far more than what can be found in Wikipedia, just for starters. You may know of the www.sports-reference.com/olympics site (SR/olympics), which is very good, but that is actually also our site – a bit more on that in a moment.

In addition to the current base group of 14, which sadly lost original member Magne Teigen by his passing last year, we have a collection of experts in various sports and nationalities that assist us a great deal to make specific corrections to those sports and nations. These include Fernando Arrechea in Spain, Paweł Wudarski of Poland, George Masin for fencing (a former fencing Olympian), Jørn Jensen in Denmark, and several others.

Why do we this? For most of us, it is purely a hobby, but its something we enjoy  immensely. We’ve been collecting this data for so long and from so many dedicated experts on the topic, that we now estimate that we have about 185 person-years of work that have produced our databases and information.

In 2008 we produced our first public website, the above mentioned SR/olympics site. That is our data, which is downloaded periodically from the Olympedia.org research site, however, we do not control it as closely, as it is run by sports-reference. However, we get many complimentary comments about this site and this brings us to the true purpose of this post.

SR/olympics will be going away sometime in the not too distant future. The reason for that is within the last few months we have had some good news as we have completed discussions with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to have them use www.olympedia.org as part of their Olympic Statistical Database. Because of this, the SR/olympics site will eventually mostly close down, although it will still include Olympic data on baseball, basketball, and ice hockey, to complement the SR data (which is superb) on those sports.

So that’s a bit on who we are, and some information on why we do this. It also lets you know that things will change in the coming months, but eventually you should be able to see Olympedia as a public site managed by the IOC, although we will still provide the updates to the site. In addition, this blog, olympstats.com will remain in its current structure and we will continue to contribute to it.

As the Rio Olympics end, we have enjoyed providing the world with our statistical data and we hope you have found it useful, and perhaps fun to read and study. If we can make it better in anyway in the future, please let us know. You can reach me here or e-mail via bam1729bam@gmail.com.

Allyson Felix – Post-Rio

Allyson Felix won 2 gold medals in relays in Rio de Janeiro and a silver medal in the 400 metres. This gives her 6 gold medals and 3 silvers in track & field athletics. Here is where she now stands on various Olympic medal lists:

  • Felix moves into a tie for 1st among all women in track & field athletics, with 9 medals, equalling Merlene Ottey (JAM).
  • She moves into a tie for 3rd among all track & field athletes, with 9 medals, trailing only Paavo Nurmi (FIN) with 12, and Carl Lewis (USA) with 10, and tied with Usain Bolt (JAM). Counting the 1906 Olympics, Felix also trails Ray Ewry (USA) with 10 (8, not including 1906) and equals Martin Sheridan (USA) with 9 (4, not including 1906).
  • She moves into 4th among all US women in any sport, with 9 Olympic medals. The only ones ahead of her are three US swimmers who have won 12 Olympic medals – Dara Torres, Jenny Thompson, and Natalie Coughlin.
  • With 9 medals, Felix is now tied for 36th among all Olympians, including all sports; and tied for 13th among female Olympians, all sports.
  • With her 4×400 gold medal, Felix equals the mark of Evelyn Ashford (USA) and Sanya Richards-Ross (USA), as the only women to win three Olympic gold medals in the same event in track & field athletics, with Ashford doing so in the 4×100 relay and Richards-Ross in the 4×400.
  • Felix moves into a tie for 5th among all female Olympians, in any sport, with 6 gold medals. Felix trails Larysa Latynina (URS-GYM) with 9, Birgit Fischer-Schmidt (GDR/GER-CAN) and Jenny Thompson (USA-SWI) with 8 each, and Věra Čáslavská (TCH-GYM) with 7. Six other women have won 6 Olympic gold medals, three in the Winter Games and three in the Summer Games: Marit Bjørgen (NOR-CCS), Lyubov Yegorova (EUN/RUS-CCS), Lidiya Skoblikova (URS-SSK), Valentina Vezzali (ITA-FEN), Kristin Otto (GDR-SWI), and Amy Van Dyken (USA-SWI).
  • Felix is now tied for 5th among all Olympic track & field athletes, with 6 gold medals, trailing only Paavo Nurmi (FIN), Carl Lewis (USA), and Usain Bolt (JAM), with 9; and Ray Ewry (USA), with 8 (10, including 1906).
  • Felix is now =2nd among US female Olympians, in any sport, with 6 gold medals. The @TeamUSA record is held by Jenny Thompson (SWI), with 8, while Felix is tied with Amy Van Dyken (SWI), who has won 6.
  • Felix has won medals at 4 consecutive Olympics (2004-16) in athletics. This trails only Merlene Ottey (JAM), who won medals at 5 Olympic Games, although not consecutively, and Veronica Campbell-Brown (JAM), who won at her 5th consecutive Olympics in Rio. Felix’s 4 consecutive Olympics winning medals is tied for 2nd with 2 other women (Jackie Joyner-Kersee (USA), Irena Kirszenstein-Szewińska (POL)) and 6 other men. Among Americans, Felix is tied in this category with Joyner-Kersee, Al Oerter, Carl Lewis, and Ray Ewry (counting 1906).
  • Felix has won gold medals at 3 consecutive Olympic Games, tieing her, among women Olympians, with Sanya Richards-Ross (USA), Evelyn Ashford (USA), and Irena Kirszenstein-Szewińska (POL), although Kirszenstein-Szewińska’s were not consecutive. The men’s record is 4, held by Al Oerter (USA), Carl Lewis (USA), and  if you count 1906, Ray Ewry (USA).

100, 200, and 4×100 Medals

Usain Bolt did it, winning the 100-200-4×100 triple gold medal for the 3rd consecutive Olympic Games (2008-16), an unprecedented triple. Winning medals in the 100, 200, and 4×100 is not that unusual, as it has now been done 25 times at the Olympics, by 22 athletes, but winning gold medals in all 3 events is.

Bolt is the only one to have won medals in all three events at 3 Olympics, much less gold medals. Renate Stecher (GDR) won medals in all sprint events in 1972 and 1976, the only other sprinter to do so more than once.

Eight athletes have won gold medals in all three events at one Olympics and they are mythic names. Here are the athletes who have achieved the sprint triple.

Name Gender NOC Year
Jesse Owens M USA 1936
Bobby Joe Morrow M USA 1956
Carl Lewis M USA 1984
Usain Bolt M JAM 2008
Usain Bolt M JAM 2012
Usain Bolt M JAM 2016
Fanny Blankers-Koen F NED 1948
Betty Cuthbert F AUS 1956
Wilma Rudolph F USA 1960
Florence Griffith-Joyner F USA 1988

In Rio, Tori Bowie pulled off an unusual feat, winning a gold-silver-bronze in the three sprint events, with gold in the relay, silver in the 100, and bronze in the 200. This has also been done before, however, now in fact 4 times, and 3 times by women. Here are the athletes to have hit for the cycle in the sprints:

Name Gender NOC Year
Justin Gatlin M USA 2004
Renate Stecher F GDR 1976
Carmelita Jeter F USA 2012
Tori Bowie F USA 2016

What about just winning medals in all three events at 1 Olympic Games? Here are the 25 times that has been done, by 11 men (13 occurrences), and 11 times by women (12 occurrences)

Name Gender NOC Year
Charley Paddock M USA 1920
Jesse Owens M USA 1936
Barney Ewell M USA 1948
Bobby Joe Morrow M USA 1956
Thane Baker M USA 1956
Valeriy Borzov M URS 1972
Carl Lewis M USA 1984
Justin Gatlin M USA 2004
Usain Bolt M JAM 2008
Usain Bolt M JAM 2012
Yohan Blake M JAM 2012
Usain Bolt M JAM 2016
André de Grasse M CAN 2016
Fanny Blankers-Koen F NED 1948
Betty Cuthbert F AUS 1956
Wilma Rudolph F USA 1960
Edith McGuire F USA 1964
Renate Stecher F GDR 1972
Renate Stecher F GDR 1976
Annegret Richter F FRG 1976
Florence Griffith Joyner F USA 1988
Veronica Campbell-Brown F JAM 2004
Carmelita Jeter F USA 2012
Shelly-Ann Fraser F JAM 2012
Tori Bowie F USA 2016

Note that this has been twice in the same year several times – by men in 1956 by Thane Baker and Bobby Joe Morrow, in 2012 by Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake, and among the women, in 1976 by Renate Stecher and Annegret Richter, and in 2012 by Carmelita Jeter and Shelly-Ann Fraser (-Pryce).

Siblings Finishing 1-2 In Olympic Individual Events

With the Brownlee brothers finishing 1-2 in men’s triathlon just now, here are all the cases of siblings finishing 1-2 in an Olympic individual event. This is the 13th time this has occurred. Note that the Goitschel sisters did it twice in alpine skiing in 1964 at Innsbruck.

Brothers Event Year
John / Sumner Paine pistol shooting 1896
Platt / Ben Adams athletics standing high jump 1912
Nedo / Aldo Nadi fencing sabre 1920
Jennison / Jack Heaton skeleton 1928
Edoardo / Dario Mangiarotti fencing épée 1952
Raimondo / Piero D'Inzeo equestrian jumping 1960
Phil / Steve Mahre alpine skiing slalom 1984
Philipp / Simon Schoch snowboard PGS 2006
Alistair / Jonathan Brownlee men’s triathlon 2016
Sisters Event Year
Christine / Marielle Goitschel alpine skiing slalom / giant slalom 1964
Doris / Angelika Neuner luge singles 1992
Justine / Chloe Dufour-Lapointe freestyle skiing moguls 2014

Big Medals Day for USA in Track & Field Athletics

@TeamUSA had a great night (and day) in Olympic track & field on Wednesday. They won 7 medals, with 2 golds, 3 silvers, and 2 bronzes.

The highlights were the women’s medal sweep in the 100 metre hurdles, with Brianna Rollins winning gold, Nia Ali silver, and Kristi Castlin bronze; Britney Reese and Tianna Bartoletta winning gold-silver in the women’s long jump; Evan Jager winning a silver medal in the men’s 3,000 metre steeplechase, the first by a USA runner since 1920, and the first better than a bronze since 1952; and Tori Bowie taking bronze in the women’s 200 metres.

How does 7 medals in athletics (track & field) stack up against previous dominant days for @TeamUSA?

Well, all in all, we’ve done much better than that before, but that includes going back to the unusual 1900 and 1904 Olympics, and pre-WWII days. At more recent Games, this was one of the most successful days ever by @TeamUSA athletes.

This is the 24th day on which @TeamUSA athletes won 7 or more medals in athletics. Going back to 1948, however, it is tied for the 4th best day, trailing 9 on 6 August 1992, and 8 on 24 November 1956 and 8 August 1984 – and the 1984 Olympics are a special case because of the Soviet-led boycott. So one could make a case it is the =3rd best day for the USA since the 1936 Olympics.

Here is the full list of days on which @TeamUSA athletes have won 6 or more medals in track & field on a single day (35 days).

DE ME YE G S B TM
3 September 1904 7 6 5 18
16 July 1900 6 6 6 18
29 August 1904 6 5 5 16
15 July 1900 7 5 3 15
1 September 1904 4 5 5 14
31 August 1904 4 4 4 12
3 August 1932 4 3 2 9
6 August 1992 4 2 3 9
10 April 1896 4 3 1 8
24 November 1956 4 3 1 8
1 May 1906 3 3 2 8
11 July 1912 3 4 1 8
8 July 1912 2 3 3 8
8 August 1984 2 3 3 8
21 July 1952 4 2 1 7
11 August 1984 4 2 1 7
7 April 1896 3 3 1 7
2 September 1960 3 2 2 7
6 August 1984 3 3 1 7
8 August 2012 3 2 2 7
17 August 2016 2 3 2 7
1 August 1928 2 2 3 7
27 November 1956 2 3 2 7
18 August 1920 1 3 3 7
20 October 1968 4 2 0 6
27 April 1906 3 2 1 6
13 July 1924 3 0 3 6
31 July 1948 3 1 2 6
12 July 1912 2 2 2 6
16 August 1920 2 3 1 6
7 July 1924 2 2 2 6
8 July 1924 2 2 2 6
26 September 1988 2 1 3 6
10 August 1984 1 1 4 6
21 August 2008 1 3 2 6

Medal Sweeps at the Summer Olympic Games

The @TeamUSA women swept the medals in the 100 metre hurdles tonite in Rio, with Brianna Rollins winning gold, Nia Ali silver, and Kristi Castlin bronze. Here are the stats on medal sweeps by a single nation at the Summer Olympics Games (SOG) – these will not include Winter Olympic (WOG) medals sweeps, although there have been 46 medal sweeps at the WOG.

  • 283rd medal sweep by a nation at the Summer Olympics
  • 86th medal sweep in athletics (track & field)
  • 57th medal sweep by women (any sport)
  • 7th medal sweep by women in athletics (3 Soviet Union, 1 GDR, 1 Russia, 1 Jamaica)
  • 1st medal sweep in the women’s 100 metre hurdles (or 80 metre hurdles)
  • 157th medal sweep by @TeamUSA (any sport) – by far the most of any nation (Great Britain, with 26, is 2nd) – more than all other nations combined
  • 25th medal sweep by @TeamUSA women
  • 62nd medal sweep by @TeamUSA in athletics (track & field)
  • 1st medal sweep by USA women in athletics
  • Medal sweeps at most recent SOG – 2000 – 2; 2004 – 4; 2008 – 7; 2012 – 2; 2016 – 1 (to date)
  • Most recent medal sweep in athletics – 2012 Jamaica – men’s 200 metres
  • Most recent medal sweep by @TeamUSA – 2008 – men’s athletics 400 metres and men’s 400 metre hurdles; and women’s individual sabre fencing

Simone Biles Rio Medal Collection

Simone Biles starred in the gymnastics competition in Rio, winning four gold medals, with three individual golds in the all-around, on floor, and on the vault. How does that stack up against previous Olympic gymnasts or previous USA women?

  • Biles’ 4 golds equals the mark for female gymnasts at a singles Olympics held by Agnes Keleti (HUN-1956), Larisa Latynina (URS-1956), Věra Čašlavska (TCH-1968), and Ecaterina Szabo (ROU-1984). Of these, only Čašlavska won all 4 golds in individual events. The record for any sport is 6 by East German swimmer Kristin Otto in 1988, with 5 other women also winning 4 golds at a singles Games – Dutch sprinter Fanny Blankers-Koen in 1948, Soviet speedskater Lidiya Skoblikova in 1964, and three swimmers, Kornelia Ender (GDR-1976), Amy Van Dyken (USA-1996), and Missy Franklin (USA-2012).
  • Biles’ 4 golds equals the best mark for @TeamUSA women at a singles Olympics, in any sport, previously set by Amy Van Dyken (SWI-1996) and Missy Franklin (SWI-2012).
  • Biles won 3 individual gold medals, which is the 2nd best mark for a single Olympics by female gymnasts, held by 6 women – Agnes Keleti (HUN-1956), Larisa Latynina (URS-1956), Věra Čašlavska (TCH-1964), Nadia Comanĕci (ROU-1976), Ecaterina Szabo (ROU-1984), and Daniela Şilivas (ROU-1988). The record of 4 individual gold medals by a gymnast at 1 games was set by Čašlavska in 1968. Two other women in other sports have won 4 individual golds at 1 games – Lidiya Skoblikova (URS-SSK-1964) and Kristin Otto (GDR-SWI-1988). Other than the gymnasts, listed above, 13 women in other sports have won 3 individual gold medals at 1 Olympic Games.
  • Biles 3 individual golds medals equals the @TeamUSA mark for any sport, by a female, previously held by swimmers Debbie Meyer (1968) and Janet Evans (1988).
  • Biles’ 5 medals (including a bronze on beam) trails only swimmer Natalie Coughlin among @TeamUSA women, who did it in 2008. Biles is now tied with 8 other American women who have won 5 medals at 1 Olympic Games – Shirley Babashoff (SWI-1976), Mary Lou Retton (GYM-1984), Shannon Miller (GYM-1992), Dara Torres (SWI-2000), Natalie Coughlin (SWI-2004 [again]), Nastia Liukin (GYM-2008), Missy Franklin (SWI-2012), and Allison Schmitt (SWI-2012). The record for women, any nation, any sport, is 7 by Mariya Horokovskaya, Soviet gymnast in 1972. Nine women, including Coughlin, have won 6 medals at 1 Olympics. Five female gymnasts have done this, including Larysa Latynina, who did it three times, in 1956, 1960, and 1964.

Of Goats And Fish

As Fonzie once said, or at least tried to say, “I was wrr- …, I was wrrooo … OK, I was not right.” Michael Phelps is the GOAT – he is the greatest Olympian of all-time.

I kept resisting this idea, that a swimmer, who gets the opportunity to compete in far more events than most Olympians, was the greatest simply because of his absurd medal count. But the numbers are out of reach. I admit it.

I had, until Rio, always stood up for a guy many of you do not know, Al Oerter. Who? Oerter was a discus thrower who won gold medals in 1956, 1960, 1964, and 1968. More importantly, it was the way he won them. He never won the US Olympic Trials. He never led the yearly discus throw list going into the Olympics. He was never a favorite, although maybe co-favorite in 1960. At each Olympics he set a personal best. At each Olympics he broke the Olympic record. At each Olympics he simply came through, as has no other Olympian, to win the discus gold medal.

When others spoke of Carl Lewis, or Phelps, or Paavo Nurmi, I would admit they were good choices, but there was something romantic, almost mystical, about this systems engineer, Oerter, the true amateur, who once said, “There is no job, no money, no amount of power, that can match the Olympic experience.” And who also said, after his Tokyo 1964 gold medal, won despite immense pain from a torn rib cartilage and a months old lingering neck injury, “These are the Olympics. You die for them.”

But I can no longer ignore Phelps’ medal counts. There are no adequate words to describe them, although of course, I will try (why else would I be writing this?).

I have a good friend named Steve Rerych, who you do not know, though perhaps you should. He is a cardiac surgeon with whom I trained in residency. Steve won 2 gold medals in relay swimming at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. Two of his teammates were Mark Spitz and Don Schollander (another swimmer sadly lost in the mist of Olympic history). Of Spitz, Rerych once told me, “He’s a fish, not a human being.” Steve explained that Spitz really didn’t train as hard as many swimmers, he wasn’t the hardest worker, but he had an innate ability to swim faster than anybody else in the world. He would simply hop in the pool, proclaim he would set a world record today, and often did.

Phelps has similar innate ability, whether it is his physiognomy, his cardio-respiratory output, his technical prowess, or whatever it is. He combines this with what was very hard work, at least through the 2008 Olympics, and probably since 2014, making him the greatest swimmer the world has ever seen.

Phelps has won in a myriad of manners. He won as a youth in Athens, challenging Spitz’s 7 Munich gold medals when Phelps won 6. He sparkled at the height of his powers in Beijing, winning a record 8 gold medals, albeit aided by the 4×100 freestyle anchor leg of Jazon Lezak, who held off France’s Alain Bernard. Phelps struggled at London in 2012, coming off an alcohol and marijuana fog of the past 4 years, but still won 4 gold medals, while his coach, Bob Bowman, said he was really only going through the motions. And he was resplendent in Rio de Janeiro, winning 5 gold medals at a swimmer’s fossil-like age of 31.

Phelps’ numbers simply make my arguments for Oerter difficult to support any more, no matter how much I admired the man. Consider a few besides the simply astronomical count of 23 golds and 28 medals.

  • Phelps has won 5 or more gold medals at 3 Olympics (2004, 2008, 2016). Only 9 other Olympians have 5 gold medals at an Olympics, and none has done so at more than 1.
  • Phelps has won 4 or more gold medals at 4 consecutive Olympics (2004-16). Only 29 Olympians have won 4 medals at an Olympics. Three of them have done it more than 1 time – Bjørn Dæhlie (NOR-CCS), Larysa Latynina (URS-GYM), and Phelps, who has done it as often as Dæhlie and Latynina combined.
  • Phelps has won 6 or more medals at 4 consecutive Olympics (2004-16). Only 30 Olympians have won 6 medals at one Olympics, and besides Phelps, only Latynina (3 times) and Aleksey Nemov (twice) (RUS-GYM) have done it more than once.
  • If he were an NOC, Phelps would now be tied for 38th on the all-time most gold medals won list. He would now be 50th on the all-time most medals won list.
  • Phelps has won 28 medals – only two other Olympians have won at least half that number – Larysa Latynina (URS-GYM) with 18, and Nikolay Andrianov (URS-GYM) with 15.
  • With 23 gold medals, Phelps has more than 2½ times the next four best Olympians, who have won 9 – Paavo Nurmi (FIN-ATH), Carl Lewis (USA-ATH), Larysa Latynina (URS-GYM), and Mark Spitz (USA-SWI).

Look at that last stat – Phelps has more than 2½ times the gold medals of Paavo Nurmi, Carl Lewis, Mark Spitz, and Larysa Latynina, and those four have always been considered among the Olympic GOATs.

I give. Phelps is the Olympic GOAT.

All the Olympic Stats You'll Ever Need