MONTREAL – Gymnastics Canada suspended an Edmonton-based 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.
CEO 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 Quebec 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.