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AFP
February 10, 2018

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Austrian skiing rocked by new rape claims

VIENNA: Austrian skiing was rocked by fresh claims of sexual assault on Friday as a newspaper reported rape allegations against a legendary national trainer of the 1960s and 1970s.

A member of Austria’s 1960s World Cup team told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung that Charly Kahr, who trained the national men’s and women’s teams and also worked in Britain, raped her when she was 16.

“I was already asleep when Kahr suddenly came into my room and raped me,” the woman, who did not give her name, told the German paper.“I should have defended myself but I didn’t have the courage.”

Another former skier, also anonymous, told the Sueddeutsche that Kahr dragged her into a hotel room in Canada in 1976, threw her on the bed and told her: “So today it’s your turn!”Years earlier in the late 1960s, when she was a minor, Kahr molested her, she added.

Kahr, a national hero nicknamed “Downhill Charly” and now 85, on Friday vehemently denied the claims through his lawyer as “pure slander”.The first woman said that she got the courage to come forward from the “#MeToo” global avalanche of sexual assault claims sparked by allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in 2017.

Austria is passionate about its skiing — its athletes will doubtless win medals galore in the Winter Olympics that began on Friday — and this is not the first time that it has been rocked by such allegations.

In November, Nicola Werdenigg, a former Olympic skier who competed under her maiden name Spiess, said she was raped in the 1970s when she was 16 and that abuse and harassment were commonplace.

“If you didn’t want to play ball then your place (in the team) was in danger,” she told the Der Standard daily, adding that she was aware of a case of sexual assault as recent as 2005.And it’s not just skiing that has been affected.

Former two-time Olympic judo champion Peter Seisenbacher has been charged with abusing two young girls — one from the age of 11 — but has been on the run for more than a year.He was arrested in Ukraine six months ago but Kiev then refused Austria’s request to have him extradited.

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