Quarter Of French Ice Skating Gov Quits Over Rape Claims

Story By: Joseph GolderSub-EditorJoseph Golder, Agency:  Golder’s News And Sport

A quarter of the executive bureau of the French Ice Sports Federation quit last night (Tuesday) after an extraordinary meeting as multiple scandals rock the ice skating world.

Local media report that there is an ‘end-of-reign atmosphere’ surrounding Didier Gailhaguet, the president of the French Ice Sports Federation (FFSG), after Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu asked the “little Napoleon” to quit yesterday.

According to French sports magazine L’Equipe, in one evening, Gailhaguet lost a quarter of his “government”.

Picture Credit: Golders/Disclose

Four of the sixteen members of the executive office who met Tuesday evening for an extraordinary meeting on the scandal of sexual violence in skating have resigned.

They are the treasurer Jean-Bernard Hamel, Alban Preaubert, president of the national sports commission of figure skating, Christophe Lambert, former president of the League of Burgundy and a fourth member whose identity has not yet been confirmed.

Gailhaguet reportedly warned Tuesday evening that he would not make any decision on a possible resignation before the end of the administrative inspection carried out the day before by Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu.

This is the latest development after multiple child rape allegations by former athletes surfaced, with the women accusing their former coaches of multiple offences. Offences which the Paris prosecutor’s office now say they are investigating.

In a statement on Tuesday (4th February), prosecutor Remy Heitz announced that the prosecutor’s office in the French capital have opened a preliminary investigation for rapes and sexual assaults of minor by a person with authority over the victim (‘viols et agressions sexuelles sur mineurs par personne ayant autorite sur la victime’ in French).

In a new book that was also published last Wednesday and in an interview with the newspaper L’Obs, Sarah Abitbol, a 10-time French champion and bronze medal winner in the pairs at the 2000 world championships, accused Gilles Beyer, her ex-coach, of raping her between 1990 and 1992 when she was between 15 and 17.

Professional ice skater Helene Godard also accused two former national champions of sexually abusing her as a minor.

In an extensive report published on Wednesday, 29th January by L’Equipe, Godard had accused national champions Beyer and Jean-Roland Racle of sexually abusing her when she was between 13 and 16 years old in the late 1970s.

In the L’Equipe report, two other ice skaters, Anne Bruneteaux and Beatrice Dumur, also accused a third coach of sexual assault and rapes. Dumur says the “rapes” allegedly repeatedly took place from 1984 to 1989 when she was staying at his home.

The case is the latest in a scandal after a bombshell investigation by NGO Disclose at the end of last year showed French sports has allegedly been rife with paedophilia and child sex abuse for years.

Maracineanu herself had been slammed for allegedly failing to investigate paedophilia in the country’s youth sports after a bombshell investigation revealed it was rife.

NGO Disclose’s investigation revealed hundreds of cases of paedophilia, many of which fell on deaf ears, even when complaints were reportedly made to Maracineanu and to the then-Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

Disclose’s eight-month probe revealed many attackers to be repeat offenders with the majority of victims being under 15, shedding light on 276 victims in 77 cases, affecting 28 different sports in France, including football, gymnastics, equestrian sports, athletics, archery, fencing, table tennis and extending to rollerblading and chess.

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