BRASILIA – The former coach of Brazil’s men’s gymnastics team told a Senate committee on Wednesday that charges he sexually abused as many as 40 athletes were false and described himself as the victim of an unspecified plot.
Fernando de Carvalho Lopes, who was fired before the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, when the scandal broke, appeared before a special committee investigating abuse in sports and acknowledged that his work was always rigorous.
“In training I am rigorous,” said Lopes, who believes the accusations by the athletes may be part of a “vengeance” plot whose origin he was not able to explain.
“I curse and even insult, but I’ve never abused anybody,” he said.
“I was never left alone with my athletes,” he also said, adding that parents were present at every training session and people often walked by, so “it could never even have happened.”
The trainer also agreed to sign releases allowing the committee to review his finances, telephone records and online activity to help further the investigation.
The case is currently in the hands of prosecutors in Sao Paulo, who have been investigating the matter from the time the first accusations emerged.