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6 Feb, 2020 11:32

'I've made no mistakes': French Skating President Didier Gailhaguet admits 'errors but no fault' over sex abuse scandal

'I've made no mistakes': French Skating President Didier Gailhaguet admits 'errors but no fault' over sex abuse scandal

French Federation of Ice Sports president Didier Gailhaguet says he "made no mistakes" over a current sex abuse scandal, despite admitting "errors and fault", and will await inquiry results before deciding whether to resign.

On Tuesday, French prosecutors opened an investigation into underage sexual abuse within the sport, arising from claims by former skater Sarah Abitbol that she had suffered systematic sexual assaults from her former coach Gilles Beyer while she was underage.

"Ladies and gentlemen, there is no perfect federation because society and people aren't perfect. To be in a position to resign, I would have needed to commit a mistake. However, I do not believe that I committed any," Gailhaguet, president of the FFSG since 1998, said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Also on rt.com Skating scandal: French authorities open investigation into underage sex abuse claims in figure skating

"Errors, yes, and many, but no fault. The minister having announced that she was putting in place a general inquiry, I will therefore wait for the outcome of this inquiry before making a decision on a request to resign," he added.

Abitbol, now 44 and who won seven European titles during her skating careerm say she was abused and raped by Beyer between 1990 and 1992, when she was between the ages of 15 and 17.

But Gailhaguet said, given those events occurred prior to his term in office, his tenure as president as such should not be tainted, adding that to do so would be "disgusting" and claims the federation has been "dragged through the mud" by the scandal.

Also on rt.com Didier Gailhaguet, the ‘little Napoleon’ of figure skating: Who is behind French sex abuse scandal?

"I have been asked to resign over events that happened 30 years ago, when I was absent from the FFSG [French Federation of Ice Sports]. Events that came to my knowledge a week and a half ago.

"Stigmatising a federation president, [who is] certainly quite flawed but honest and hard-working, is disgusting. Finally, and more importantly, the federation as well as our clubs, our leagues, our licensees, our leaders, our coaches, our medical staff, our administrative employees, our technical teams were dragged through the mud and you think I can let that happen?

The French Sports Ministry is claimed to have had concocted a file on Beyer, but ministry chief Jean-Francois Lamour is reported to have said the organizations would "close our eyes" to the abuse at the time Abitbol came forward.

Beyer, now 62, is also the subject of sexual abused allegations by a fellow French figure skater while she was between 13 and 14 years in the 1970s.

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