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Didier Gailhaguet: the end of an ice age

The freezer ended up breaking. Suspected of having covered cases of sexual violence, the departure from the presidency of the French Ice Federation (FFSG) of Didier Gailhaguet became inevitable. He resigned this Saturday morning during an exceptional federal council convened Friday. At least the man whose fall was unimaginable before the revelations of former skaters claiming to have been raped by three coaches, has he avoided the supreme humiliation of having been removed by the government from an institution he had been a bully for almost twenty years.

Didier Gailhaguet offered himself one last week of bravery. Monday, he was summoned by Roxana Maracineanu, the Minister of Youth and Sports. Unable to fire him, the minister asked him to resign. No question, he replied in substance, even if the former swimmer had used the atomic weapon: the withdrawal of ministerial approval from the FFSG. Without this visa, the institution would become an empty shell with the ban on being involved (organization or participation of athletes) in any competition whatsoever. In fact, it came under the supervision of the National Olympic Committee. Not without a certain flamboyance, Gailhaguet had counter-attacked two days later during a well-orchestrated media barnum. Unquestionably good on form, he had fallen on the bottom with guilty approximations, soft denials and a big lie as a bonus. He had indeed claimed to have collaborated with the association fighting against sexual violence in sport, Colossus with feet of clay. The latter had immediately denied, ensuring that on the contrary, the boss of the FFSG had dismissed his offers of service with a dismissive “It does not exist with us”.

Thursday evening, however, he had not ruled out resigning, “If it was the only way to unblock the situation”. It must be said that the club presidents released him one by one. As if the events had released their word, each summarized in their own way the way in which Gailhaguet has governed the FFSG since 1998 (with a parenthesis between 2004 and 2007). “He is deaf to the moral or ethical responsibility part of the president. It is no longer audible in the (defense) axis he chose, Tackled Bruno Travail, president of the Wasquehal Lille Métropole Skating Agreement. I am convinced that he is no longer the man for the job. ” “He must resign so that everything falls apart, intimated the president of Lyon Glace Patinage, Pascal Girardot. I don’t see how he can get away with it, even if he’s an endian. You also have to be reasonable, we are worried about the future. “Mr. Gailhaguet, your defense did not move me. Your unworthiness, if “, sulfated Damien Boyer-Gibaud, president of Angers before putting the terms of the equation: “If he really loves his volunteers, his athletes, his federation, he leaves her.”

“Clean up the whole federation”

Didier Gailhaguet 66 years old finally resolved it. “For the sake of appeasement, I took the wise decision to resign with philosophy, dignity, but without bitterness”, he announced to journalists at the exit of the extraordinary federal council in Paris this Saturday morning. For Roxana Maracineanu, who wins her showdown against a federation boss, “It’s a first step”. She assured on Twitter that “Steps taken” by his ministry “(aimed) to analyze “The dysfunctions which allowed serious acts to occur over time within the federation“. More direct, skating champion Sarah Abitbol, ​​the source of the first revelations of alleged sexual abuse in the 1980s, from her trainer, Gilles Beyer, estimated in The Obs that“It remains to clean up the whole federation where he has all his friends. Those who have remained silent and supported his system are still there. ”.

If Abitbol did not break the silence until thirty years later, the Minister of Sports pointed to the role of Gailhaguet in the maintenance of Gilles Beyer in the skating circuit, despite suspicions in 2000. At the time, a letter from parents denouncing his inappropriate attitudes, had provoked an administrative investigation, which had led the Ministry of Sports to terminate the functions of Gilles Beyer on March 31, 2001. But the coach had reinstated the Parisian club of flying French, coordinated in the 2010s gala tours of the France team and appeared in the coaching of the Blues at the 2011 world junior championships.

The steadfast patron of French skating had already emerged from perilous ruts. Splashed by a case of cheating at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002, he had been banned from any role in international skating for three years. In 2004, he also had to resign from the presidency of the FFSG following a report by the Court of Auditors pointing to management drifts. But he resettled in the chair in 2007, until Saturday. By announcing his resignation, he denounced “The ministerial dictatorship and in particular the shameful threat of a withdrawal of accreditation”. Being called a dictator by Gailhaguet, who has some knowledge, in other circumstances, it could be considered a compliment. Now it’s just pathetic.

Gilles Dhers with AFP


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