Japan Olympic judo champion jailed for raping student

Masato Uchishiba receives his gold medal in Athens (Aug 2004)
Image caption Masato Uchishiba brought gold medals home from the Athens and Beijing Games

Japan's two-time Olympic judo gold medallist Masato Uchishiba has been jailed for five years for raping a student he had been coaching.

Uchishiba had maintained that sex with the teenager in 2011 was consensual, but the court in Tokyo ruled he had assaulted her while she was asleep.

The verdict is the latest scandal to hit Japanese judo this week.

On Thursday, the national women's team coach Ryuji Sonoda resigned following accusations he had beaten his students.

Mr Sonoda, an Olympic gold medallist himself, said allegations that he had slapped the women and used a wooden sword to discipline them while they were training for the 2012 London Olympics were "more or less true".

He apologised and has received an official warning, the Kyodo news agency reported, as had other coaching staff.

Japan's Sports Minister Hakubun Shimomura has ordered the country's Olympic Committee to investigate allegations of abuse in the sport.

Barred from competing

Uchishiba brought gold medals home from the Athens and Beijing Games, and was feted as a national hero.

Prosecutors said he assaulted the woman after he had been out drinking with her and other members of the women's judo team at the Kyushu University of Nursing and Social Welfare.

The judge ruled that his argument the woman willingly had sex with him could not be trusted, as she was almost unconscious because of alcohol.

Uchishiba was fired from his coaching post in the wake of the allegations and in January last year, was barred from all judo competitions by the All Japan Judo Federation.

He is expected to appeal against the guilty verdict.

The use of physical punishment in the Japanese sporting arena is not new - in 2007 the head of a sumo stable was fired by the sport's national body over the treatment of a 17-year-old wrestler who died after being beaten during practise.

But the issue has been in the spotlight since the suicide in December of a high school student after beatings from his basketball coach.

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