France's ice skating chief resigns over sex abuse scandal

Didier Gailhaguet resignation after nearly two-decades in charge comes as French ice skating reels from claims of rape against a former national coach, Gilles Beyer.

President of France's ice skating federation, Didier Gailhaguet, announcing his resignation in the wake of a sex scandal facing the sport.   -  AFP

The under-fire president of France's ice skating federation Didier Gailhaguet resigned on Saturday over a damaging sex abuse scandal.

“In the spirit of conciliation I took the sensible decision to resign with philosophy, dignity but no bitterness,” the 66-year-old announced after a meeting of the federation's federal council in Paris.

His resignation after nearly two-decades in charge comes as French ice skating reels from claims of rape against a former national coach, Gilles Beyer.

In an autobiography published last week, former world championship bronze medallist Sarah Abitbol accused Beyer of raping her several times from 1990 to 1992 when she was between the ages of 15 and 17.

Another skater, Helene Godard, accused Beyer and another coach Jean-Roland Racle of sexual abuse when she was a minor.

Gailhaguet had refused calls from Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu to resign, telling a news conference on Wednesday that he had “absolutely not protected Gilles Beyer”.

Gailhaguet has been the most influential figure in French ice skating since he became president in 1998.

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