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'It is a monstrous lie!' Pregnancy doping - Olga Karasyova speaks! (2001)

   Olga with her coach Sofia Muratova in 1971.  You can also see a video of Olga training with Sofia at

 I wanted to record in English the key points of this 2001 interview with Olga.  Thanks to Maryam Vulis who gave me the link.

Date of article - 7th March 2001
Author - Vladimir Golubev

Olga invited me to visit her cozy one-bedroom apartment. I see family gymnastic albums, remember her youth, and gradually ask a few questions.

- What a voluminous file of documents!  It shows how much time and effort had to be expended to get to court. Correspondence, lawyer requests, decisions, resolutions, agenda ...

- Actually, this story began a long time ago.  Once, German broadcaster RTL screened an interview ... with my double!   A certain woman who said that she was Olympic champion in gymnastics, Olga Kovalenko.  (I actually took the surname of my second husband, but then divorced and again became Karaseva.). She gave a sensational interview, saying that the USSR coach forced the girls to get pregnant and then at the ninth or tenth week to have an abortion!  Doctors know that at these times there is a sharp increase in the levels of male hormones in the woman's body, which in girls increases physical strength and brings new resources of life, a feeling of elation. It is meant to be a kind of doping. "That's how we won," - these are the words of the imaginary "Kovalenko".

Of course, this interview was published by many news agencies, newspapers and magazines. The Moscow correspondent of the Spanish newspaper "ABC" Juan Jimenez de Partha somehow tracked down my phone and asked about the meeting. Imagine his disappointment when I told him it's easy to prove that it is a pure fake. At the time, when my "understudy" was broadcasting live on abortion, I was on a sea cruise.  There is evidence in my passport!

Then "Paris Match" reporter Michel Peyrard, who had seen the "tremendous" interview on RTL, flew in to see me.  He was pretty surprised that I could speak perfect French, but also frustrated because he found no resemblance to the "Olga from Germany".

At this time, my life was difficult.  Stays in hospital, surgery, long-term treatment. My lawyer had not been idle, was preparing materials against RTL. But because the "project" was too expensive, we couldn't proceed.

And suddenly, a Russian newspaper article appeared, smelling of mothballs.  "In bed with the coach." It began like this: "No sports scandal caused such terror in the world community as a story told by former gymnast Olga Kovalenko on the television channel RTL - wrote a well-known western weekly magazine "Sports Illustrated" ...  The correspondent of the Russian newspaper had telephoned Olga Kovalenko, who, they said, was now living and working abroad.  She repeated: "My case is not out of the ordinary. I was just one of many athletes who were prescribed mandatory sex. Girls who refused to do as the authorities instructed were subject to dismissal from the team. Those who did not have permanent boyfriends were forced to have sex with their coaches."

You can imagine my state! I was shocked!  How cheap!   The 'fake Olga' probably took a big fee for the very first interview on RTL, then vanished, and then it was a matter of - "I contacted by phone."  I filed a lawsuit against the newspaper.

I do not like to complain about life, how things worked out, and developed. I suffered a lot. I was born Olga Kharlova, and made friends with Valery Karasev at the World Championships of 1966.  This was the last appearance of our idols Larisa Latynina, Polina Astakhova, Boris Shakhlin, Yuri Titov. Valery  courted me, was so attentive, so insistent that really it seemed - maybe it's fate? We got married, and then we competed together at the Olympics in Mexico City, and at the World Champs in 1970.

We lived together for ten years. I so wanted a baby!  But my husband insisted that it was necessary to save more money to settle. I was eager to work abroad, but it didn't work out. I also liked my work in international management of the State Committee of the USSR. I did this and graduated from the Pedagogical Institute of Foreign Languages. I had a reference from FIG President Yuri Titov, went abroad, and was preparing to run for the members of the Technical Committee of the International Gymnastics Federation.

Perhaps my happy eyes made my husband jealous.  There were unpleasant scenes. I knew that he was trying to hide his sins. I would have to have been blind not to guess that he was partying on the side.  In the last year of my marriage we had begun to dislike each other, and I realized that I had fallen in love with Yuri Kovalenko. He also worked as a translator, and traveled with delegations to the competitions. On the one hand, I had a husband who was constantly shouting insults, on the other, a man who used to give me flowers, make compliments and sing me songs in English.  Who was I going to choose?

The marriage to Yuri lasted ten years after which he moved to America.  Olga is now married to Mikhail Lifirenko.  Olga says she receives a presidential pension (ten times the minimum salary).  She has some back problems but it seems that the State helps her with physical therapy.  She had a Russian blue cat, Rita, and she and her husband have a large circle of friends.

Going back to the scandal, the interviewer asks about the 1968 team - Luda Tourischeva, Liubov Burda, Larissa Petrik, Natasha Kuchinskaya, Zinaida Voronina, and Olga Karasyova.  Were they forced to have sex!  

- It is, I repeat, a monstrous lie!  I sought only one thing - a correction in the newspaper. And I am very pleased that the court stood up for my honor and dignity. It would be nice to find my German impostor and say so to her face.  However, although I am angry, I can really laugh about it!

On the 24th July 2000 Olga turned 51. But you can't believe it. After all, she is still a real beauty. 

You can read the full background and context of this story at

and a full translation by Lauren Cammenga of a Kommersant news story from 1988 here -



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