The Market for Olympic Gold Medals

Stefan Szymanski

Published: December 2000

From a national perspective the Sydney Olympics were almost completely predictable. Statistical modelling shows that population size and income per head provide an almost faultless method for identifying medal totals. However, it is probably the discrepancies that are most interesting– why do some countries outperform and others underperform? Cheating, through drug abuse, is one possible explanation considered in this article.

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