18 Jan 2018

Star of the Austrian ski world accused of 1974 rape

The #MeToo movement continues in the Austrian ski world: superstar Toni Sailer, who died in 2009, was arrested before a World Cup race in then-communist Poland on suspicion of sexual assault.

Christine Tragler
Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Star of the Austrian ski world accused of 1974 rape - NewsMavens

Why this story matters:

Toni Sailer was the Austrian athlete of the century -- a folk hero, a movie star, a style icon. He now has another title: accused rapist. 

Information has emerged that police in Zakopane, Poland had investigated a claim of rape against Sailer in 1974. Sailer was in the country to compete in a slalom World Cup.

The fact that it took four decades for the story to comes to light suggests that authorities invested great effort to protect the reputation of a sports star. While researching the story, journalists of Der Standard, Dossier and Ö1 were repeatedly asked: must you really write about this?


The 1970s were a different time, people say. But the MeToo debate of 2017 shows that abusers can still walk away in our time as well. In his article on "File Sailer," Der Standard editor Fritz Neumann writes:

"To this day, it is difficult to engage in an open discourse on sexual violence and abuse, and victims often find it difficult to report what has happened to them because they fear the consequences."

Indeed, there are many reasons why Toni Sailer's act could only be reported 44 years later.

gender, women's issues, violence

Details from the story:

  • Austria's ski star Toni Sailer is the talk of Austrian media because he is accused of raping a woman 44 years ago.
  • On March 5, 1974, Sailer allegedly attacked the woman in Zakopane, Poland, where a slalom World Cup was being held. The woman was later found to have significant injuries.
  • Sailer died of cancer in 2009 at age 73. His alleged victim is also deceased.

Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
Is something happening in your country that Newsmavens should cover?
Zuzanna Ziomecka
Zuzanna Ziomecka EDITOR IN CHIEF
Lea Berriault-Jauvin
Lea Berriault Managing Editor
Jessica Sirotin
Jessica Sirotin EDITOR
Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko EDITOR
Gazeta Wyborcza, Agora SA Czerska 8/10 00-732, Warsaw Poland
The e-mail addresses provided above are not intended for recruitment purposes. Messages concerning recruitment will be deleted immediately. Your personal data provided as part of your correspondence with Zuzanna,Lea, Jessica and Ada will be processed for the purpose of resolving the issue you contacted us about. The data provided in your email is controlled by Agora S.A. with its registered office in Warsaw Czerska 8/10 Street (00-732). You can find more information about the processing and protection of your personal data at https://newsmavens.com/transparency-policy