Tonya Harding admitted in an extensive new interview that she had prior knowledge of the infamous 1994 baton attack that was carried out on her longtime Olympic rival Nancy Kerrigan.
“I knew that something was up,” the former figure skater, 47, told Amy Robach on the two-hour ABC special Truth and Lies: The Tonya Harding Story, which aired on Thursday, January 11.
Still, Harding maintained that she never agreed to her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly’s plan to attack Kerrigan, now 48. “I did, however, overhear [him and his friend Stephen Eckhardt] talking about stuff … ‘Well, maybe we should take somebody out so we can make sure she gets on the team,’” Harding recalled. “I remember telling them, I go, ‘What the hell are you talking about? I can skate.’”
Gillooly and Eckhart pleaded guilty to racketeering for their involvement in the incident and they both served time in prison. Harding long-denied having any involvement, but pleaded guilty to conspiring to hinder prosecution. She had to pay a $160,000 fine and was sentenced to three years’ probation as well as 500 hours of community service. Harding was also banned for life from the U.S. Figure Skating Association.
“It makes you cringe, hearing it,” she said of the news footage of Kerrigan screaming in pain immediately after the attack. “You know how much that it had to have hurt.”
Harding also alleged during the interview that her estranged mother, LaVona “Sandy” Golden, was physically abusive throughout her childhood. In a rare appearance, Golden denied the claims. “I didn’t abuse any of my children,” she told Robach. “Spanked? Yes, spanked. Absolutely, positively you got to show them right from wrong.”
Golden also denied allegations that she once threw a steak knife at her daughter. “Why would I throw a steak knife at anybody?” she said. “[Harding has] lied so much she doesn’t know what isn’t a lie anymore.”
Harding’s rise and fall is depicted in the acclaimed new movie I, Tonya. Margot Robbie plays Harding, while Allison Janney plays her mother. Harding even attended the Los Angeles premiere with Robbie, 27. Golden has no interest in seeing the film, though. She told Robach, “I don’t care how it portrays me. I could care less about that movie than the dirt outside.”
The disgraced athlete has been on somewhat of a comeback tour since I, Tonya hit theaters in December. However, she hit a bump in the road this week when she was dropped by her publicist, Michael A. Rosenberg. “Her adamant and final position is that reporters must sign an affidavit stating that they won’t ask her anything ‘about the past’ or they’ll be fined $25,000,” Rosenberg claimed in a Facebook post on Thursday. “Obviously, it doesn’t work that way; and therefore I’ve chosen to terminate our business relationship.”
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