Olympic candidate in brothel row

  • 2008-02-27
  • By Adam Krowka

A SHAME: Rahnu has been suspended from the Olympic team until his name has been cleared of wrongdoing.

TALLINN - Controversy and drama arose in the Estonian sporting arena when allegations were made that decathlon candidate Kristjan Rahnu had a hand in the operation of a prostitution ring.
With the 2008 Beijing Olympics only months away the Estonian Olympic Committee suspended his candidacy to participate in the national team and his sponsors started to quietly withdraw support.
Rahnu, along with sprinter Taavi Rim and another person whose identity is yet unknown, allegedly pimped women from a new apartment purported to be at Rottermann 5/Roseni 10.
Police supposedly began investigating the location in January, weeks after activities began around Dec. 24. The apartment was most likely only one in a chain of several bordellos in which prostitution took place.
Postimees reported that most of the prostitutes working in the chain were of Russian origin and under 30 years of age. Prices ranged from 600 kroons (38 euros) for a session to 1,000 kroons (64 euros) for an hour and up to 6,000 kroons for an entire night.

The head of Estonia's Olympic Committee (EOK) announced the immediate suspension of Rahnu from his status as a candidate for the Estonian team in the next Olympics, to be held in Beijing China Aug. 8-24.
Until his guilty status in the dispute is confirmed or his name cleared, he will remain outside of preparations for the world sporting celebration.
"The EOK has never held Kristjan Rahnu guilty in its comments. However, the EOK does have the right to name Olympic candidates and the responsibility to see to it that money given for Olympic preparations is used purposefully," President Mart Siimann told the Baltic News Service.
The scandal allegedly involving the athlete has already cost him the support of one of his largest sponsors 's construction material firm Aeroc.

"Kristjan still has to give a very good explanation of the situation in order for us to be able to continue providing him with support," managing director Ivar Sikk told the Postimees.
"The truth is that up until now, our sponsorship of Kristjan on paper is valid, though relating to the appearance of new information we must make a correction," he said.
Rahnu declined to explain or give immediate comments on the situation until he had "collected himself" 's a process he estimated to take a week.
"Today I can only say that I would never like to let anything like this come between myself and my commitment to my career as an athlete," he said in a statement released through his lawyer.
While prostitution is not illegal in Estonia, pimping is a crime as is a state of induced or forced prostitution under Estonian Penal Code Article 268. According to a report published by the Central European University International Policy Fellowship Program on prostitution and trafficking in the Baltics, brothels in Tallinn number approximately 50 's 70, with five to 20 women working in each.

The study found poverty as the main cause of women prostituting themselves, often resulting from drug addictions or need for family support. Results of prostitutes surveyed indicated that 83 percent were Russian, compared to 11 percent Estonian, and 26.5 percent were under 18 years of age.
Rahnu has previously competed in the Decathlon World Championships and placed sixth in 2005 in Helsinki.
At the World Indoor Championships in 2006 he took fourth place in the heptathlon and ninth place in the European Championship for the decathlon.