Earlier this week, Vitaly Scherbo, the 1992 Olympic all-around champion in men’s gymnastics, was accused by his female counterpart—1992 women’s all-around gold medalist Tatiana Gutsu—of raping her when she was 15 years old. While Scherbo has not made any public remarks since Gutsu alleged he assaulted her at a competition in Germany in 1991—we reached out for comment but have yet to hear back with a response—the coverage in former Soviet Union countries has tilted towards defending Scherbo and discrediting Gutsu.
Scherbo’s own words from a 2010 interview do not make him appear upstanding in his treatment of women. Scherbo was talking to Komsomoskaya Pravda about courting his second wife Valentina. The interviewer prompted him by asking how Valentina managed to snag him since it seems, by reputation, Scherbo “knows his way around women.” Scherbo answered:
I won’t be modest, I’ve seen plenty of women in my life. Playboy, in general. And I’m used to getting what I want from women. And you understand what I wanted.
Scherbo goes on to discuss his frustration with the fact that Valentina, a former gymnast and circus performer, was forcing him to wait for sex. “You won’t believe it, but it happened for the first time only after the wedding,” he told the paper. This is why Scherbo said he married her.
“She’s not like the 99% of women who want to get married by all means,” he continued.
Even Scherbo’s mom—who has publicly defended him after the Gutsu allegations were made public—admitted in this 2010 story that her son felt entitled when it came to women. Of Valentina’s resistance to sleeping with him, Scherbo’s mom said, “That really turned Vitaly on because he’s used to getting everything he wants.”