In an interview for ABC’s special ‘Truth and Lies: The Tonya Harding Story,’ the former champion figure skater says she overheard her ex-boyfriend and a friend speculating that someone should be “taken out” before the 1994 Winter Olympics.
Former figure-skating champion Tonya Harding tells ABC News in a new interview that she overheard her ex-husband and a friend discussing “tak[ing] out” someone before the 1994 Winter Olympics so that Harding could get on the team.
Harding allegedly overheard the comments one or two months before the 1994 U.S. National Championships, where Harding’s competitor Nancy Kerrigan was famously clubbed in the knee and taken out of competition due to her injury. Her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly and his friend Stephen Eckhardt, later served 18-month prison sentences for conspiring to assault Kerrigan. Harding pleaded guilty and earned three years’ probation, community service and a $160,000 fine, though she has long maintained that she had no prior knowledge of the assault.
In an interview with ABC News’ Amy Robach for the two-hour special Truth and Lies: The Tonya Harding Story, which aired Thursday night, Harding claims she was innocent of planning to attack Kerrigan. Nevertheless, “I did however overhear them talking about stuff,” she says to Robach, referring to Gillooly and Eckhardt. She adds, “They were talking about skating and saying, ‘Well, maybe somebody should be taken out so [Harding] can make it.'”
When Robach asks whether she thought about those overheard comments when Kerrigan was later attacked, Harding says she didn’t at the time, though she remembered them “two or three days later.”
Earlier in the program, Harding said that immediately after Kerrigan’s attack she felt scared, because she assumed that the attacker could still be in the building.
When told of Harding’s latest recollection of the attack, journalist Connie Chung, who interviewed Harding for ABC in 1994 following the incident, said, “Unbelievable. I can’t believe that she said that.”
“Wow, what a damning comment that is. For her to say that she knew they were attacking someone, that is huge,” USA Today columnist Christine Brennan added.
Kerrigan later skated in the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer and won silver, while Harding did not place in the top three slots.
The entire ordeal is the subject of the film I, Tonya, starring Margot Robbie as Harding, Sebastian Stan as Gillooly and Allison Janney as Harding’s mother.