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‘Our country needed medals’: Russian champion skier reveals she was forced to have an abortion before Olympic Games

‘Our country needed medals’: Russian champion skier reveals she was forced to have an abortion before Olympic Games
Russian skiing and biathlon legend Anfisa Reztsova has revealed that she was forced to have her first pregnancy terminated right before the 1988 Olympics in Calgary because she had been expected to win medals at the Games.

The first athlete in history to win Olympic gold medals both in cross-country skiing and biathlon said the national coaches convinced her to put Olympic goals higher than her pregnancy because the Soviet Union she represented ‘needed medals’.

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In June 1987, we had a training camp in Estonia. Me and my teammate Elena Vyalbe missed our periods. I came to my coach Nikolai Lopukhov and he sent me to Tartu by bike, the training session was not cancelled,” Reztsova said.

Doctors confirmed my pregnancy. Lena was younger than me, she was still at junior level, so she was allowed to have a baby. I was sent to Moscow to visit a gynecologist. ‘She is pregnant, but we need medals. She shouldn’t have this baby.’ This is what coaches said,” the retired athlete added.

The three-time Olympic champion said she agreed to have an abortion in exchange for a two-room apartment in Moscow region which was given to her by the national sports bosses.

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Reztsova scooped two medals at the 1988 Calgary Games, including the coveted gold in women’s relay.

She later gave birth to four daughters, and one of them, Darja Virolainen, represents the Russian biathlon team at an international level.

Reztsova is widely regarded as one of the most talented Russian biathletes and skiers who managed to win Olympic and world titles in two different winter sports.