Budapest, April 7 (MTI) – László Kiss on Thursday resigned from his position as Hungary’s national swimming team coach after repeated calls to do so over his role in the 1961 gang rape of a young female swimmer.
“In the interest of Hungarian national sport and my health, which has deteriorated as a result of the personal attacks I have received, I have decided to resign as head coach, effective today,” Kiss told MTI in a statement.
The 75 year-old came under fire earlier this week after crime portal privatkopo.hu published an article describing how in 1961 Kiss and two other swimmers gang raped a female swimmer. All three men were sentenced to three years in prison but were released after serving 20 months.
On Wednesday, Kiss told the daily Népszabadság that he had never attempted to hide the fact that he was convicted for the crime and that he could never and would never get over the case.
On the same day, the Hungarian Swimming Association declared its support for Kiss. The association said the case was known to everyone in the Hungarian swimming world.
Kiss, who also coached five-time world champion Katinka Hosszú, said he was falsely accused in 1961 and convicted in a “show trial”. He said the unjust conviction was later used to smear and discredit him. Kiss said he had “taken the necessary steps” to prove his innocence and is exploring the possibility of asking for a retrial.
“I declare that I never committed the act described in the verdict,” he insisted in his statement. “I am the same man I was last week or 50 years ago. I lived my entire life with honesty for my work and Hungarian sport.”
Kiss thanked his supporters for standing by him “through thick and thin”.
“But,” Kiss continued, “I had to realise that the smear campaign that the press has been running against me and my work has resulted in a public outcry that has divided sports fans.”
He said he would hold off on investigating whose interest it might have served to “discredit” him by bringing up the decades-old case.
Kiss said he had planned on serving as head coach until the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.