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French ice skating coaches face rape claims

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Sarah Abitbol. wikimedia/Blackhawkice

AFP – Former world bronze medal winning skater Sarah Abitbol was at the forefront on Wednesday of new revelations about sexual abuse in French sport.

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

Abitbol’s accusations came on the day that sports daily L’Equipe ran a lengthy report into sexual abuse in skating, swimming and tennis in France.

Under the headline “The End of Omerta”, L’Equipe leans on the stories of three other skaters who accuse Beyer and two other coaches, Jean-Roland Racle and Michel Lotz, of abuse and rape when they were minors.

The coaches have either denied the allegations or declined to comment.

The report comes a week after French tennis coach Andrew Geddes was jailed for 18 years for raping four underage players.

“He (Beyer) started to do horrible things leading to sexual abuse and I was raped at 15,” said Abitbol, now 44, in a video interview with L’Obs.

“It was the first time a man touched me.”

Another skater Helene Godard accused Beyer, who was French national champion in 1978, and Racle of sexual abuse when she was a minor.

According to L’Equipe, Beyer, who continued his career as director of the French teams and national coach, was the subject of two investigations, one by the sports ministry, in the early 2000s.

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