French judo federation addresses sexual abuse accusations

PARIS (AP) — The French judo federation said Monday it is working with sports authorities to protect victims following a series of alleged cases of violence and sexual assault.

In a statement following an investigation by Le Parisien newspaper, the federation said it has “unfortunately been affected for a long time.”

In its investigation last week, Le Parisien reported several cases, including sexual assault and rape accusations. One woman told the newspaper she was repeatedly raped for months by her judo instructor 10 years ago when she was only 13.

“Our federation strongly condemns and fights all violence and particularly sexual violence against young people,” the judo federation said. “We thank the athletes who have broken the silence and thus allowed the victims to speak out more freely.”

The federation said it has been monitoring all cases mentioned by the newspaper.

The accusations are the latest in a series that has rocked French sports in recent months.

In August, the French ministry of sports said more than 20 coaches working with the skating federation or its clubs had been identified following an investigation into accusations of sexual assault, harassment or violence.

The fact-finding probe was launched in February at the request of the sports ministry after 10-time French champion Sarah Abitbol said in a book she was raped by skating coach Gilles Beyer from 1990-92, when she was a teen. Her revelations led to the resignation of the long-serving head of the skating federation, Didier Gailhaguet, who denied protecting the coach.

In the wake of Abitbol’s accusations, more skaters spoke out to denounce sexual violence from coaches over a 30-year period.

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