In a new HBO documentary, "Back on Board," four-time Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis recounts the years of hostile behavior from his teammates throughout his career, while he kept his sexuality a secret.
"There was the whole 'beat the fag club' and 'fag buster campaign,'" Louganis said Wednesday on "CBS This Morning."
He said some of his teammates called him "commie fag" for associating with Soviet divers and sometimes the ridicule was so bad he had to room with his coach instead of his teammates.
"In retrospect. we were all really young and I've met a lot of those guys along the road through the years and I don't know how much of that was truly homophobia or how much of it was jealousy, because I was winning at the time," Louganis said.
Louganis is considered the most accomplished diver in the sport's history. He was on the American diving team in the 1976, 1984 and 1988 Olympics, winning five medals, including four gold.
He also captured five world championship titles and 47 national titles -- more than anyone in U.S. history. Beyond diving, Louganis made strides for his fellow gay athletes, when he came out as an HIV-positive gay man in the 1990s.
As one of the '88 Olympic games' most popular American athletes, Louganis may be best remembered for the moment he struck his head on the springboard during a preliminary round in Seoul.
"I jumped off the board and I heard this big clank," Louganis said in the documentary.
On the pool deck that day, as a doctor stitched Louganis' head, he kept a secret from the world he was HIV-positive and bleeding in a public site.
"It's important to know how you get HIV and how you don't get HIV. You're not going to get HIV in a chlorinated pool, and the people were at risk were Dr. James Puffer and Dr. Ben Rubin who sewed my head up poolside because they were in direct contact with the blood," Louganis said.
Despite the injury, he came back the next day to win the gold medal.
"My coach, Ron O'Brien, he said, 'You don't have to get up there; you have an incredible career. No matter what you decide, I'm going to support you 100 percent.' And I said 'You know what? We worked too long and hard to get here and I don't want to give up without a fight,'" Louganis said.
O'Brien has also said Louganis never appeared on a Wheaties box because of his sexuality.
"You know, it's hard, corporate America. I don't know if they were ready, you know, to embrace me. It was rumored. There was plenty to read between the lines," Louganis said.
He came out in 1994, and soon after, Louganis told the world about his health condition.
"According to the CDC standards of AIDS versus HIV, I do have AIDS," Louganis told Barbara Walters on ABC News in 1995.
Louganis has also faced crippling financial loss. HBO's cameras were rolling in 2006 when Louganis, worried about his compromised immune system and the possible threat of black mold in his house, took out loans for repairs. The contractor ran off with his money and Louganis said he was living in a partially constructed house for seven years.
But now, Louganis said, he and his husband Jonny are off to a fresh start.
"We sold the house last year, we got completely out of debt," he said. "We were able to pay for our wedding."