Japan Olympian sentenced to 5 years on rape conviction

The judge didn't believe Judoka Uchishiba, a two-time gold-medal Olympian in judo, had consensual sex with a college judo club member.

TOKYO — Two-time Olympic judo champion Masato Uchishiba was sentenced to five years in prison Friday for raping a female member of a university judo club in 2011.

In handing down his ruling, Judge Tomonao Onizawa said the court "cannot trust at all" claims by Uchishiba that he had consensual sex with the student, the Kyodo news agency reported.

Uchishiba, 34, who won gold in the 66-kilogram class at the Athens and Beijing Olympics, is expected to appeal.

The judge said the woman's accusation of sexual assault while she was asleep was credible given that she could not stand up on her own after drinking too much alcohol at a restaurant before the incident. Prosecutors accused Uchishiba of intoxicating the student in order to take advantage of her inability to resist.

Uchishiba was arrested in December 2011 over the rape allegation and barred from all judo activities by the All Japan Judo Federation in January 2012.

The ruling is the latest in a series of embarrassing incidents to hit judo.

On Thursday, Japanese women's judo coach Ryuji Sonoda resigned over accusations he physically abused female judoka at a training camp before the London Olympics.

Sonoda said at a press conference on Thursday it would be "difficult" for him to continue with his job in light of the accusations.

Japan's judo confederation confirmed Wednesday that Sonoda used violence after it was revealed that 15 female judoka sent a letter to the Japanese Olympic Committee at the end of 2012 complaining they had been subjected to harassment and physical violence by Sonoda in preparations for the Olympics.

"I deeply regret that my behavior, words and actions have caused trouble," said Sonoda, a former world gold medalist in the men's 60-kilogram category. "It will be difficult for me to go any further with the training of the team."

The use of corporal punishment in Japanese sports has come under the spotlight following the suicide in December of a Japanese high school student who endured repeated beatings by his basketball coach.


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