Jul 13, 2012 10:01 PM GMT
ESPNThis story appears in ESPN The Magazine's July 23, 2012 Body Issue. Subscribe today!
AMERICAN TARGET SHOOTER Josh Lakatos faced a conundrum. Halfway through the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, he and his rifle-toting teammates were finished with their events, and the U.S. Olympic Committee and team officials had ordered them to turn in the keys to their three-story house and head back to the States. But Lakatos didn't want to leave. He knew from his experience four years earlier in Atlanta, where he'd won silver, that the Olympic Village was just about to erupt into a raucous party, and there was no way he was going to miss it. So he asked the maid at the emptied-out dwelling if she'd kindly look the other way as he jimmied the lock. "I don't care what you do," she replied.
Within hours, word of the nearly vacant property had spread. Popping up once every two years, the Olympic Village is a boisterous city within a city: chock-full of condos, midrises and houses as well as cafés, barbershops, arcades, discos and TV lounges. The only thing missing is privacy -- nearly everyone is stuck with a roommate. So while Lakatos claimed a first-floor suite for himself, the remaining rooms were there for the taking. The first to claim space that night were some Team USA track and field fellas.
"The next morning," Lakatos says, "swear to God, the entire women's 4x100 relay team of some Scandinavian-looking country walks out of the house, followed by boys from our side. And I'm just going, 'Holy crap, we'd watched these girls run the night before.'"
And on it went for eight days as scores of Olympians, male and female, trickled into the shooter's house -- and that's what everyone called it, Shooters' House -- at all hours, stopping by an Oakley duffel bag overflowing with condoms procured from the village's helpful medical clinic. After a while, it dawned on Lakatos: "I'm running a friggin' brothel in the Olympic Village! I've never witnessed so much debauchery in my entire life."
TAKE YOUR MARK
Home to more than 10,000 athletes at the Summer Games and 2,700 at the Winter, the Olympic Village is one of the world's most exclusive clubs. To join, prospective members need only have spectacular talent and -- we long assumed -- a chaste devotion to the most intense competition of their lives. But the image of a celibate Games began to flicker in '92 when it was reported that the Games' organizers had ordered in prophylactics like pizza. Then, at the 2000 Sydney Games, 70,000 condoms wasn't enough, prompting a second order of 20,000 and a new standing order of 100,000 condoms per Olympics.
Many Olympians, past and present, abide by what Summer Sanders, a swimmer who won two gold medals, a silver and a bronze in Barcelona, calls the second Olympic motto: "What happens in the village stays in the village." Yet if you ask enough active and retired athletes often enough to spill their secrets, the village gates will fly open. It quickly becomes clear that, summer or winter, the games go on long after the medal ceremony. "There's a lot of sex going on," says women's soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo, a gold medalist in 2008. How much sex? "I'd say it's 70 percent to 75 percent of Olympians," offers world-record-holding swimmer Ryan Lochte, who will be in London for his third Games. "Hey, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do."
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