The French Gymnastics Federation apologized on Saturday for its “clumsy communication” following comments from its president, who said he was powerless to sanction coaches involved in cases of mistreatment before being severely reprimanded by the minister sports. “The French Gymnastics Federation would like, first of all, to express its deep concern and its unconditional support for all victims of violence,” the body declared in a press release. “We recognize that clumsy communication, particularly during the hearing at the National Assembly, may have given the impression of passivity or indifference in the face of these unacceptable situations.” “We offer our most sincere apologies to all those affected, and in particular to the victims and their families,” added the Federation.
Heard Thursday by the National Assembly's commission of inquiry into dysfunctions in sports federations, the president of the FFGym James Blateau assured that he did not have the power to suspend coaches implicated in cases of abuse. Referring to the case of a coach from a Rouen club accused of violence, the manager declared that he did not have the power to suspend him, the coach not being an employee of the Federation but an employee of his club.
Comments which shocked the Minister of Sports Amélie Oudéa-Castéra. “It is not acceptable to hear that we cannot do anything, absolutely not, since I recall on the contrary that the federations have extensive disciplinary power,” she reacted on Friday. In its press release, the Federation explained, concerning this coach, that it had set up a disciplinary commission since September 1. “The disciplinary commission remains the only means available to sports federations to sanction perpetrators of violence,” recalled the body. The hearing of this disciplinary commission took place on Friday and the resulting decisions will be made public in the coming days.