More than 400 figures are accused of sexually assaulting children or covering up abuse

A year-long French probe into the extent of sexual violence in sport has identified more than 400 coaches and others suspected of either abuse or covering it up.

Some 63 per cent of the victims were under the age of 15, according to data released on Friday by the sports ministry.  

Sixty people have faced criminal proceedings, more than 100 have been temporarily or permanently removed from their posts and local investigations are under way into other cases, the ministry said.

The abuse – which included sexual assault, harassment or other violence – reached across the country and across the whole sector, with accusations targeting a total of 48 sports federations.

The fact-finding investigation was launched in February 2020 after 10-time French skating champion Sarah Abitbol claimed in a book that she was raped by coach Gilles Beyer (pictured in 1978) from 1990-92, when she was a teenager

The fact-finding investigation was launched in February 2020 after 10-time French skating champion Sarah Abitbol claimed in a book that she was raped by coach Gilles Beyer (pictured in 1978) from 1990-92, when she was a teenager

The fact-finding investigation was launched in February 2020 after 10-time French skating champion Sarah Abitbol claimed in a book that she was raped by coach Gilles Beyer (pictured in 1978) from 1990-92, when she was a teenager

Of those accused, 96 per cent are men, and of the victims, 83 per cent were women, the ministry said.

The fact-finding investigation was launched in February 2020 after 10-time French skating champion Sarah Abitbol claimed in a book that she was raped by coach Gilles Beyer from 1990-92, when she was a teenager.

Former hammer thrower Catherine Moyon de Beacque, who first spoke out about abuse in 1991, welcomed the current action 'at the highest level of the state'

Former hammer thrower Catherine Moyon de Beacque, who first spoke out about abuse in 1991, welcomed the current action 'at the highest level of the state'

Former hammer thrower Catherine Moyon de Beacque, who first spoke out about abuse in 1991, welcomed the current action ‘at the highest level of the state’

Beyer has faced preliminary charges of sexual assault and the investigation is continuing. When contacted by AFP in January Beyer’s lawyer, Thibault de Montbrial, refused to comment.

In the wake of Ms Abitbol’s accusations, more skaters spoke out to denounce alleged sexual violence from coaches.

The sports ministry set up a dedicated platform for athletes’ testimonies and conducted a year of hearings.

In its statement, the ministry called Ms Abitbol’s testimony ‘a historic moment for French sport’ which raised awareness and has pushed authorities to crack down on abuse.

A new law on tougher screening of sports teachers, including volunteer coaches, came into effect on Friday, and the French government and sports federations have pledged to respond faster and more effectively to reports of abuse.

Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu has played a key role in raising awareness. In a recent interview with The Associated Press, the former swimming champion described her own experiences facing sexism, and said it’s time for French mindsets to change when it comes to women’s rights within the male-dominated sports world.

Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu (pictured in 2018) has played a key role in raising awareness. In a recent interview with The Associated Press, the former swimming champion described her own experiences facing sexism

Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu (pictured in 2018) has played a key role in raising awareness. In a recent interview with The Associated Press, the former swimming champion described her own experiences facing sexism

Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu (pictured in 2018) has played a key role in raising awareness. In a recent interview with The Associated Press, the former swimming champion described her own experiences facing sexism

At a government meeting Friday to assess efforts to fight sexual violence, Abitbol told the group that she’s ‘healing’ and was glad to see other victims speaking out, according to L’Equipe newspaper. 

Former tennis champion Isabelle Demongeot described the ‘battle’ she faced among the public and colleagues after accusing her coach of rape. 

Former hammer thrower Catherine Moyon de Beacque, who first spoke out about abuse in 1991, welcomed the current action ‘at the highest level of the state.’

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