Sjoberg drops sexual abuse bombshell
Stockholm – Former Swedish high jumper Patrik Sjoberg released a bombshell on Thursday, saying his former coach and stepfather abused him sexually for several years.
“I was not the only victim,” said Sjoberg, who said he had worked a year with the autobiographical book, Det du inte sag (What you didn't see).
In the book, he recounts how he was abused by his coach Viljo Nousiainen during a four-year period.
The abuse began when Sjoberg was 11 and included “scientific experiments” where Nousiainen regularly measured Sjoberg's muscles, undressed him and gave him massage.
Sjoberg told Swedish breakfast television of how he woke up at night with no covers or pyjamas, and that at times Nousiainen took photos.
The abuse ceased at age 15 when Sjoberg threatened to go to the police, but Nousiainen was also more interested in younger boys, the former world record holder said.
Nousiainen died in 1999.
Norwegian athlete Christian Skaar Thomassen said he was subjected to similar abuse by Nousiainen, according to the book.
After the book publication, Swedish coach Yannick Tregaro, who trains several Swedish top athletes including triple-jumper Christian Olsson, told Swedish radio Nousiainen also abused him.
“I was ashamed and felt it was my fault,” Tregaro, 33, said.
None of Nousiainen's alleged victims filed police complaints and Sjoberg continued to work with Nousiainen until 1997, but they travelled separately to competitions and training camps.
“I wanted to be the best and thought he was the best coach,” Sjoberg said of Nousiainen.
At age 46, Sjoberg said he had no interest in “making this up” and was prepared to defend himself against possible libel suits.
Sjoberg said he hoped the disclosure would trigger a debate about paedophiles and their attempts to target vulnerable victims in the world of sports, and would also help young victims.
Sjoberg, won several Olympic medals including a silver at the 1984 Olympic Games at Los Angeles, and was world champion in 1987.
Former high jumper Stefan Holm, who won Olympic gold at the 2004 Athens Games, consulted Nousiainen on occasion and said he was “shocked” over the allegations. – Sapa-dpa