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Amid #MeToo, former Soviet gymnast Tatiana Gutsu accuses fellow Olympic gold medalist of rape

Tatiana Gutsu competes at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. (Image via YouTube)

Former Soviet gymnast Tatiana Gutsu, the all-around champion at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, added her voice Tuesday to a growing number of women sharing their stories of sexual assault and sexual harassment with a public post on Facebook accusing a former teammate and fellow gold medalist of raping her when she was 15 years old.

The accusations come amid a global outpouring of similar stories from women who have experienced sexual harassment or assault following a tweet from actress Alyssa Milano. The #MeToo campaign has since become a global phenomenon — sparked by revelations about film producer Harvey Weinstein — that has generated more than 12 million Facebook posts and a half-million tweets using the hashtag.

In the post, Gutsu, now 41, says the sexual assault took place while competing at a team event in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1991, and she alleges male gymnast Vitaly Sherbo, who would have been 19 at the time, as her attacker:

This is me being brave after 27 years. …
Who rape me in Stuttgart Germany DTB 1991.
Vitaliy Sherbo.
Monster who kept me in my own prison to be afraid for so many years.

This is me being brave after 27 years.Tatyana Toropova who I thought was my friend and a team mate in the National…

Posted by Tatiana Gutsu on Monday, October 16, 2017

Gutsu and Scherbo competed for the Unified Team at the 1992 Games but were products of the Soviet Union’s Olympic machine that drew athletes from what have become more than a dozen individual countries and produced more than a thousand Olympic medalists between 1952 and its collapse in 1991. Both Gutsu and Scherbo were all-around champions in 1992, and the Unified Team’s men’s and women’s squads took home golds in Barcelona, as well. Scherbo won six total gold medals in Barcelona — adding titles in pommel horse, rings, vault and parallel bars to his team and all-around crowns. Four years later, he won four bronzes while competing for his home country of Belarus.

Gutsu, who retired abruptly from gymnastics following the 1992 Games and later moved to the United States, also calls out Rustam Sharipov, a 1996 Olympic gold medalist, and Tatyana Toropova in the Facebook post for knowing about the assault and not supporting her. “Rustam Sharipov thank you for being a great body for your friend and not protecting me as a little girl at 15” Gutsu wrote. Sharipov, a Ukrainian like Gutsu, also competed for the Unified Team in 1992 and is now the head coach of the Ohio State men’s gymnastics team.

Scherbo currently owns a gymnastics school in Las Vegas. The school’s website states that the school, named for its founder, has been open since 1998 and says “Recreational and competitive team classes for both boys and girls are offered as well as preschooler and toddler classes. Your child will learn in a positive atmosphere with a highly qualified U.S.A.G. staff hand selected by one of the most accomplished and decorated gymnasts in men’s gymnastics history.”

U.S. Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, who has spoken out against sexism on Twitter in the past, tweeted her support of Gutsu.

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