On the forecourt of the Ministry of Sports, a few minutes after his interview with Roxana Maracineanu, Didier Gailhaguet is awaited by a pack of microphones. Summoned by his minister, to explain the suspicions of sexual assault that splash skating, the president of the French Federation of Ice Sports (FFSG) faces the journalists, without looking down. He does not mention his resignation, however requested by the Minister of Sports.
“It was a shock wave that crossed the ice sport and French sport as a whole. Faced with her, I wanted to reserve my first statement for the Minister responsible, "said the former skater in preamble to justify his silence for the past few days. Before continuing: "I regret it because she did not listen to me and, above all, she did not hear me. Admittedly, I made mistakes but no mistakes. "
"I discovered like everyone else last week most of the facts"
Subsequently, the president of the FFSG since 1998 - except for a break between 2004 and 2007 - has a word for the alleged victims of the rapes. Starting with ex-champion Sarah Abitbol, who broke the omerta in her book "Un si long silence" (Plon), where she reveals that she was sexually abused by her trainer Gilles Beyer when she was a teenager . “The first of my thoughts goes to young girls I know well. I am extremely sad, dismayed, overwhelmed by the harm done to them by malicious predators, who raped them, taking their innocence, their dignity in their childhood or adolescence to make them traumatized victims for life. That's what touches me, ”continues Gailhaguet.
Still without lowering his guard, he continues his monologue outside the door of the ministry: "I discovered like everyone else in the press or in a book last week most of the facts. Some date back to thirty years, long before I became president of this federation. Others, during my mandate, who were hidden from me. The head of the federation therefore said that he did not know: "Only one case was known to me, behavior that the ministry considered to be equivocal ..."
"The real culprits are those who let these abuses happen"
At this point, Gailhaguet defends the executives of his federation: “Thirty years of silence as Sarah writes, it is also thirty years of ignorance. No complaints have ever been filed and to date, the criminal records are empty. However, all the other cases I had to deal with during my mandate were done without complacency, but I couldn't even discuss them with the Minister ( Editor's note: Roxana Maracineanu ). We reject these facts, we do not support them, we hate them. The FFSG is not that! These are 2,000 volunteers, 600 judges, 600 supervisors serving 32,000 licensees. Our technical staff are not a bunch of sexual predators having rape as a culture, as L'Obs shamefully writes . "
After defending his own, Gailhaguet openly attacks the various sports ministers. "Faced with all this mess, the real culprits are those who let these abuses happen," accuses the leader. I of course want to quote the ministry and the minister of the time ( Editor's note: Marie-George Buffet) who, by their cowardice, their incompetence and their numerous flip-flops made it possible to leave people on the ice in a mature sport therefore more exposed when they should have been treated and put out of harm's way. "
"A sports federation is neither the police nor the justice system"
To sum up, responsible but not guilty: "Let's get on well," says Gailhaguet, "a sports federation is neither the police nor the justice system. It does not have the human and financial resources of the Ministry of Sports to carry out investigations. I hope that the FFSG will not be the only federation here. The world of sport is part of the society where evil exists. "
At no time in his speech Didier Gailhaguet raised the idea of his resignation. When asked if he is considering it, he replies: "We are going to think about all this. I will bring together the management team tomorrow evening (this Tuesday) to study the situation very closely, with lucidity and responsibility ”, inviting the media to a press conference this Wednesday at 2 pm. The man probably promises to release certain files.