Sports

Canadian Olympic Committee’s President Resigns, Realizes Showing up at Meetings in Boxers “Questionable”

Marcel Aubut resigns as head of the Canadian Olympic Committee amid allegations of sexual harassment. Photo: Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press

Marcel Aubut resigns as head of the Canadian Olympic Committee amid allegations of sexual harassment. Photo: Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press

It’s all in a night’s work for CBC’s Adrienne Arsenault, who Saturday morning took middle-of-the-night calls from sources informing her that Marcel Aubut, the president of the Canadian Olympic Committee (aptly acronymed ‘COC’) will be resigning after sexual harassment complaints against him were withdrawn.  Allegations against Aubut include fondling, touching and forcible kissing.

In an official statement, Aubut wrote,

“I announce today that I am stepping down as president of the Canadian Olympic Committee, to which I have devoted the past 10 years of my life and championed with all of my energy.”

He continues,

“I realize that my attitude could at times be perceived as questionable by some women and could have caused them to feel uncomfortable. I acknowledge this and will adjust my behaviour accordingly.”

Sir, let me be the first to explain: groping, forcible Frenching and showing up to “meetings” in your boxer shorts isn’t a “perception” of questionable behaviour.  It is, as La Presse‘s Yves Boivert writes, something that even a 12-year old boy should know to be unacceptable.

Charges against him were detailed in graphic terms by Boisvert, who writes that Aubut received a letter four years ago from Jean Dupré, then CEO and Secretary General that was clearly intended to “strangle a scandal” (translation Elle Beaver’s) , writing, “You’ve got to be naive on an Olympic level to write a 63 year old man to tell him he can’t kiss his employees, unless it’s on the cheek to say hello.”

Gross. At its worst, a potential cover-up. Or at the very least, willful ignorance of a serious problem.  And frankly, none of us should care that Aubut was “a bulldozer” who got sh*t done.  As pre-trial motions in disgraced CBC star Jian Ghomeshi’s sexual assault trial begin, it’s a reminder that our society is notoriously slow to act when it comes to sexual violence, particularly when powerful public figures are involved.

So while Aubut will be stepping down and some accusations withdrawn, thus hopefully sparing any other women from his douchery, it’s heartening to see Adrienne Arsenault reporting that there will nonetheless be an independent third-party investigation:

Let’s hope that the full truth comes out and that any alleged conspiracy of silence falls apart.  Women deserve more from their workplace.


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How Not to React to Jian Ghomeshi’s PR Statement

On Jian Ghomeshi and Violence Against Women: Where Do We Go From Here?

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