US women’s aoccer goalkeeper, Olympic gold medalist, and awesome-name-haver Hope Solo recently released a timely memoir entitled Solo: A Memoir of Hope (see what I mean about the awesome name?). In it, among the usual triumph-over-adversity narrative that is de rigueur with athletes’ autobiographies, is the shocking allegation that Solo’s partner on Dancing with the Stars, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, was physically aggressive toward her in their rehearsals, even slapping her “hard” in the face at one point.
“He manhandled me in rehearsals from the start, pushing me, whacking my stomach, bending my arms roughly. I thought that was just how it went – how dancers worked with each other,” she wrote. “But it kept getting worse. One day, Maks was trying to put me in a certain position and hit my stomach so hard with his open palm that I had a red handprint there for the rest of the day.”
Solo claims she was given the opportunity to switch partners, but chose not to because she didn’t want to be perceived as a whiner or ruin Maks’ career, though the latter reason doesn’t explain why she chose to include the anecdote in her memoir. That’s not at all to say Solo doesn’t have every right to call Chmerkovskiy out if the allegations are true, but it does give pause. I’m curious to see whether any of Maks’s other past partners come forward with similar experiences. I am also fairly certain if the allegations are legitimate, there’d be footage from the constantly-rolling cameras…wouldn’t there?
Maks didn’t offer any comment to the tabs who broke this story, but his Twitter stream does seem to passive aggressively address the allegations:
Always hated hypocrites and liars…but when someone is both AND an opportunist, I just feel bad for them. Can’t win at someone’s expense…
— Maksim Chmerkovskiy (@MaksimC) August 16, 2012
Admittedly, Solo has a reputation for being pretty outspoken in the press, but she’s heretofore seemed to be far more guilty of being too honest rather than the opposite, frequently voicing her opinions on teammates, opponents, and the high occurrence of Olympian-on-Olympian nookie during the Games.
As for whether she’s an opportunist, she certainly did pick a good time to release a tell-all, having just returned from London with a gold medal in the U.S. rematch against the 2011 World Cup winning team from Japan, but I see no problem in capitalizing on that accomplishment, so long as everything in the book is true. It’s important to remember that, while some assault allegations turn out to be false, these incidents are exceptions. I hope that ABC and the producers of Dancing with the Stars will take the allegations seriously enough to conduct an investigation.