April 07, 2016

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) Laszlo Kiss, coach of Hungary's swimming team for 23 years, resigned on Thursday after it was revealed he was one of three men convicted in a decades-old rape case.

Kiss said in a statement sent to The Associated Press he was leaving in the interests of Hungarian sports and because his health was shaken by the disclosure of his conviction.

Kiss coached the women's team since 1993 and the men since 1999. He also trained five-time Olympic champion Krisztina Egerszegi and other top swimmers like Agnes Kovacs and Karoly Guttler.

Kiss, 21 years old at the time, and two other swimmers were convicted of raping a young woman they met at the National Sports Swimming Center in July 1961.

Kiss professed his innocence, saying his conviction in February 1962 came at a show trial based on trumped-up charges. He said he was gathering documents from the archives and would seek to reopen the case in court.

''Please don't forget that I am the same man as I was a week or 50 years ago,'' said Kiss, who also resigned as deputy mayor of the town of Szazhalombatta, south of Budapest. ''All my life I've lived honorably for my job and, through it, for Hungarian sports.''

Kiss said he was sentenced to three years in prison but released in 1963 during a general amnesty granted to many prisoners by the communist regime. He denied his early release was granted because he agreed to become an informant, as was speculated in Hungarian media.

Kiss said he was planning to resign anyway after the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

''I believe, however, that in the present circumstances - taking into account the divisiveness of my persona - I cannot be of benefit to the Hungarian swimming team or to the Olympic squad,'' Kiss said.

The Hungarian Swimming Federation, whose board and coaching committee unanimously reconfirmed Kiss in his post on Wednesday, is expected to deal with his resignation next week.

Kiss' conviction was reported at the time in Hungarian media, and was said now by officials to be well-known within the sport, but the revelations published on Tuesday by the privatkopo.hu website still shocked the country.

Swimming has been one of the Hungary's most successful sports in the past 30 years, and Kiss is very highly regarded for his coaching prowess.

Budapest will host the world aquatics championships in July 2017.

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