Skating scandal: French authorities open investigation into underage sex abuse claims in figure skating
The investigation follows claims from French pairs skater Sarah Abitbol, who claimed that she was raped by her former coach Gilles Beyer when she was underage.
Abitbol claimed in an interview with L'Obs newspaper, that Beyer had systematically sexually assaulted her and raped her between 1990 and 1992, when she was between the ages of 15 and 17.
Also on rt.com ‘It was the first time that a man touched me’: French 10-time skating champ Sarah Abitbol claims she was raped by former coach
"He started doing horrible things… sexual abuse and I was raped when I was 15. It was the first time that a man touched me," said Abitbol, who won seven European titles during her skating career.
She also stated that neither her parents nor French figure skating authorities were aware of her alleged ordeal at the time.
However, when Abitbol decided to come forward with her accusations after her retirement, she alleged the Ministry of Sport in France snubbed her claims.
"Yes, we have a file on him, but we’re going to close our eyes," Jean-Francois Lamour, who headed the French Sports Ministry, at that time allegedly replied.
But now it appears her interview has prompted a change of heart, and now an investigation has reportedly been launched.
Prosecutor Remy Heitz said in a statement that the investigation will seek to "identify other victims who might have suffered similar offences."
Beyer last week said that he had had "intimate" and "inappropriate" relations with Abitbol, who is now 44, in comments to Agence France Presse. Beyer could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Sports minister Roxana Maracineanu on Monday asked French figure skating federation president Didier Gailhaguet, who at the time of the alleged rapes was already in charge, to resign. Gailhaguet has so far said only that he would "think about it."