(ATR) The president of the French Federation of Ice Skating says he will not resign in the face of allegations he kept secret allegations of rape against a top coach.
Didier Gailhaguet held a press conference in Paris today, his first since the rape allegations were disclosed last week. On Monday, Minister of Sport Roxana Maracineanu issued a call for Gailhaguet to step down.
Claims of sexual assault have been made by at least four figure skaters against their coaches from the 1970's to 1990’s. The allegations have come to light in the past week following the publication of a book by one of the skaters, Sarah Abitbol.
She reveals that for a period of two years from 1990 to 1992, coach Gilles Beyer sexually assaulted her, a 15-year-old when the assaults started.
Beyer last week admitted to the inappropriate relationship.
A police investigation has been launched following a week of headlines in the French media.
Allegations of sexual assaults are now emerging from athletes in swimming and tennis.
Gailhaguet, who has been president of the French federation since 1998, denies he covered up allegations against Beyer and other coaches.
"There was not a single case during my presidency which was not treated," he said at today’s
The book by Sarah Abitbol that launched the scandal in France.
press conference. “I am an imperfect man, but I am a clean man,” said Gailhaguet.
He says he presented the allegations in 2000, but that the sports minister at the time did not advance the inquiry.
Denis Masseglia, president of the French NOC, is under pressure to seek the resignation of Gailhaguet as a director of the CNOSF. Speaking to newspaper Le Monde,
he says that will be a decision for Gailhaguet and his federation. Masseglia says he spoke with Gailhaguet, advising him “to do what is honorable”.
Gailhaguet professes to be unaware of the attacks on the young skaters, incidents that took place well before he took charge of the federation in 1998.
“These kids, who are women today, these are people I trained or supervised (…), I know them well, I like them well and I am devastated by this sad observation of the lives of women shattered or upset forever by the fault of bastards,” he told media.
And he rejects any suggestion that the federation is protecting criminals.
“This is not a bunch of sexual perverts with the culture of rape," he said.
Gailhaguet, 65, came under scrutiny for charges of rigging the scoring in the pairs event at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Despite his complicity in the scoring scandal Gailhaguet was re-elected president of the national federation that year.
Reported by Ed Hula.
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