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French skating boss under pressure over sex abuse revelations

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Didier Gailhaguet, president of the French Ice Sports Federation, speaks to the press as he leaves the Sports ministry in Paris on February 3, 2020, following a meeting with French Sport Minister. Five days after accusations of sexual violence in figure skating, French Sports Minister Maracineanu received the president of the Ice Sports Didier Gailhaguet on February 3, 2020, and asked him to resign. AFP

AFP – The furore over sexual abuse in French figure skating deepened on Monday when the president of the French ice sports federation admitted to “mistakes” after Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu told him to quit.

Last week former coach and senior federation (FFSG) official Gilles Beyer responded to accusations in a book by Sarah Abitbol and acknowledged an “inappropriate” and “intimate” relationship with the skater starting when she was 15.

Maracineanu, a former swimmer, met long-time FFSG president Didier Gailhaguet on Monday and then said he must carry a share of the responsibility.

“The weight of facts and their continuation over time illustrate that a general dysfunction exists within the federation,” she said. “Didier Gailhaguet, cannot absolve himself of his moral and personal responsibility, so I have asked him to assume all his responsibilities and resign.”

The minister also brandished further threats. She said she would refer the matter to the public prosecutor “so that a criminal investigation can be conducted,” threatened to withdraw state recognition of the FFSG, and promised to help in the creation of an “association of victims.”

Asked as he left the ministry if he would resign, Gailhaguet said: “We’ll think about all that.”

He said he would convene a meeting of the federation’s management “tomorrow (Tuesday) evening.”

Gailhaguet also made a limited apology, saying: “I made mistakes, not errors.”

Maracineanu demanded to know why Beyer, already suspected of inappropriate behaviour, was not dismissed much earlier.

Gailhaguet, who is 66, complained that Maracineanu “didn’t listen to me and, above all, she didn’t hear me.”

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