- 2 Jun 08, 06:00 AM
Come with me, if you will, on a journey back to the Ancient Olympic Games for today's countdown.
Ahhh, the gold old days when men competed in the altogether and married women were not allowed within a javelin thrown of the stadium; any that were found in the stadium were sentenced to death.
It was a time time when sportsmanship reigned and the Games were not ruled by money.
Err ... stop right there. While the bit about nudeness and married women is true, the original incarnation of the Games were every bit as susceptible to a bit of cheating and corruption as they are today.
Depending on which sources you want to trust, there are all manner of controversies to plough through, such as the first recorded incident of actual cheating in 388 BC when the boxer Eupolus of Thessaly bribed three opponents to take a dive.
Other athletes tried to bribe judges and those caught had to pay a fine, which helped finance the statues of Zeus that lined the route to the stadium.
There were, of course, many athletes who, like today, played within the rules.
But corruption really peaked in AD 67 when Roman Emperor Nero decided to get involved.
Not only did Nero bribe Olympic officials to hold the Games out of sequence to suit his own purposes, he also persuaded judges to disqualify all possible competitors so that he could compete against himself and win six events.
And according to the writer Suetonius, despite failling from his chariot in a 10-horse race and not finishing, Nero was declared the victor anyway.
Several hundred years later, the founder of the Modern Games, Pierre de Coubertin proclaimed: "The important thing is not to win, but to take part."
For Nero, it appeared to be the other way round.
By the way, one married woman did manage to watch the Games.
Kalipateira disguised herself as a man and sneaked into the stadium in 404 BC with her son, Peisirodos, who she had trained following the death of her husband.
When Peisirodos won, Kalipateira's secret was revealed as she caught her tunic while clambering over a barrier in excitement and revealed a little too much flesh.
Rather than being thrown by the Eleans from the cliffs of mount Typaion, as happened to other women, officials decided that because her father, brothers, and son were all Olympic victors, she would not be punished, in order to honour them.
However, after this incident it was decided that trainers would also be required to be naked at the Olympic games, making it impossible for women to enter in disguise.
And so endeth today's history lesson. I hope you enjoyed it and if you know of any other Ancient Olympic scandals, please reveal them below.
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