December 7, 2017 1:02 pm
Updated: December 8, 2017 12:06 am

Gymnastics Canada suspends Alberta coach amid sexual-abuse allegations

Michel Arsenault speaking to Global Edmonton in a 2014 feature on a young gymnast.

Global News

An Edmonton gym has banned one of its co-founders — gymnastics coach Michel Arsenault — and Gymnastics Canada has suspended him amid allegations he sexually abused some of his former students.

Champions Gymnastics says it is taking the allegations against Arsenault, seriously.

The move comes after a report by the CBC’s French-language network that Arsenault sexually abused at least three gymnasts in Quebec when they were minors in the 1980s and early ’90s.

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“We have just learned of the allegations published by Radio-Canada,” Champions Gymnastics said in a statement on its website.

“We take these allegations seriously and want to reassure the parents and their children who attend our gym.

“Moving forward, Mr. Arsenault will not be involved in any activities at Champions Gymnastics and will not be allowed on our premises. This decision has been taken to allow our coaching team to pursue the club’s mission to offer our athletes an environment where they will be able to flourish.”

The gym said it had no further comment.

Michel Arsenault speaking to Global Edmonton in a 2014 feature on a young gymnast.

Global News

Champions Gymnastics is owned and operated and was founded by Michel Arsenault and Valérie Oudin, according to the gym’s website. They call themselves Edmonton’s only Olympic women’s gymnastics coaches.

On Thursday, Gymnastics Canada released a statement saying it had suspended Arsenault – a member coach of Gymnastics Alberta – following the serious allegations.

“We take the safety and well-being of our participants seriously and it is a high priority for our organization,” Peter Nicol, president and CEO of Gymnastics Canada, said.

“Our hearts go out to everyone affected by this situation, in particular the athletes and their families,” Richard Crépin, chair of the board of directors for Gymnastics Canada, said.

“No athlete should be subject to this type of conduct and we are working tirelessly to ensure that all of our participants are able to take part in our sport in a safe and welcoming environment.”

Gymnastics Canada said in January it implemented additional requirements for all national team participants, including enhanced background checks and training on ethical behaviour.

The organization, which is the national governing body for the sport of gymnastics in Canada, said it is working with its provincial counterparts to update politics and “ensure alignment in key areas such as background screening, conduct, and the development of a safe sport framework.”

No criminal charges have been laid against Arsenault.

READ MORE: Two retired Quebec police officers charged after assault investigations

Radio-Canada said Arsenault did not respond to requests for comment.

— With files from The Canadian Press

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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