Much has been written about the “win at all costs” mentality of the Soviet bloc during the Olympic games of yore. Everything from chemical enhancements, blood transplants and even bribery seemed to have been tried.
There is however a wonderful, if a somewhat apocryphal story about the Javelin competition at the Moscow Olympics of 1980.
Desperate to win a stack of gold medals in front of their home crowd, it seemed that no stone was to be unturned. It has been said that every time a Soviet athlete was poised to start their run up to throw, the gates of the Lenin Stadium were opened, allowing gusts of wind to propel the Soviet javelins a few extra metres and into medal positions. When the non- Soviets were about to throw the gates were promptly closed again
But they had another cunning plan up their sleeves. Step forward a Soviet javelin thrower, Dainis Kula, a 21 year old Latvian. He had scored two foul throws on his first two attempts. He had to make the third count in order to qualify for the final.
It was a decent effort too, flying majestically through the air but it landed tail first. The rules specify that the javelin must penetrate the field. So it was yet another foul and he was out of the completion. But wait, there is a plump Soviet official in a blazer waving a flag, the throw is judged to be legal. It was then measured at 291 ft 7 in to a chorus of boos.
To make this blatant piece of cheating even worse, yes you guessed it, Kula won the gold medal in the final.