Edmonton gym­nas­tics coach sus­pended

Waterloo Region Record - - SPORTS - The Cana­dian Press

MON­TREAL — Gym­nas­tics Canada sus­pended an Ed­mon­ton­based coach on Thurs­day amid al­le­ga­tions he sex­u­ally abused some of his former stu­dents.

The de­ci­sion to sus­pend Michel Arse­nault came af­ter CBC’s French-lan­guage net­work re­ported he sex­u­ally abused at least three gym­nasts in Que­bec when they were mi­nors in the 1980s and early ’90s.

“Our hearts go out to ev­ery­one af­fected by this sit­u­a­tion, in par­tic­u­lar the ath­letes and their fam­i­lies,” said Richard Cre­pin, the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s chair of the board of di­rec­tors.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Peter Ni­col said Gym­nas­tics Canada is com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing a safe en­vi­ron­ment for its ath­letes.

An Edmonton gym where Arse­nault was based has also barred him from its premises and said he will no longer be in­volved in any of its ac­tiv­i­ties.

Cham­pi­ons Gym­nas­tics said it is tak­ing the al­le­ga­tions se­ri­ously.

Ra­dio-Canada said Arse­nault did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

The net­work quoted one woman as say­ing she was 14 when Arse­nault al­legedly be­gan touch­ing her gen­i­tals, while an­other said she was 15 when he al­legedly forced her to touch his gen­i­tals.

Other women in­ter­viewed de­scribed Arse­nault as ver­bally and phys­i­cally abu­sive.

The net­work also quoted the cur­rent gen­eral man­ager of Gym­nas­tique Québec as say­ing Arse­nault was sus­pended from com­pe­ti­tion in 1987 for his be­hav­iour toward coaches and of­fi­cials.

“He could teach in Que­bec, at his club, but he couldn’t rep­re­sent Que­bec, nei­ther as a man­ager nor as a coach,” Serge Cas­tonguay said.

“He couldn’t over­see a Que­bec team at na­tional or in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions.”

Arse­nault moved to Al­berta in 1994 and opened Cham­pi­ons Gym­nas­tics in 2002.

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