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International Ice Hockey Federation probing Hockey Canada over alleged sex assault

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The International Ice Hockey Federation is investigating Hockey Canada’s handling of what the IIHF calls “deeply troubling” allegations of sexual assault against players, including some on the 2018 World Juniors championship team.

The Zurich, Switzerland-based world governing body for ice hockey said it wants more information amid a continued storm of criticism and condemnation that has rocked Hockey Canada to its core.

Confirmation of the probe, first reported on by The Athletic on Saturday, comes just one week before the launch of the IIHF’s 2022 World Juniors championship, which has struggled to fill seats for the games taking place in Edmonton, Alta., amid the outcry from sponsors, politicians and parents.

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“The IIHF was informed by Hockey Canada about this settlement in May 2022 and has launched an inquiry to obtain additional information concerning the cases and Hockey Canada’s actions taken to address them,” a spokesperson for the IIHF said in an email to Global News.

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“These are deeply troubling incidents that the IIHF takes extremely seriously,” the organization added.

“The IIHF will continue to monitor Hockey Canada’s actions, including the reopened investigations, to ensure that it is acting in accordance with the IIHF Abuse and Harassment Code. The IIHF will take all appropriate steps in line with the IIHF Abuse and Harassment Code when and if necessary.”

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The IIHF Abuse and Harassment Code states that the standard of proof in probes into potential violations of that code weigh the balance of probabilities, which is the legal standard used in civil cases under Canadian law.

That standard is different than the evidentiary threshold in Canadian criminal trials, which tests whether allegations can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

If the IIHF determines a violation has taken place, its disciplinary board can lay any of the sanctions outlined in its disciplinary code against either an individual player or the member national association, of which Hockey Canada is one.

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Those sanctions options include a warning, a reprimand, a fine, suspension from a specified number of games or for a specified period of time, annulment of game results, declaration of a game forfeit, deduction of the number of points awarded, disqualification from a competition in progress and/or exclusion from future competitions, prohibition of registering new players in IIHF Competitions; and withdrawal of title or award.”

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Canadian police are investigating allegations of sexual assault made against players from two World Junior championship teams: those in 2003 and 2018.

The former is alleged to have taken place in Halifax, N.S., and the latter in London, Ont.

A 2018 investigation by London police did not result in any charges, but has since been reopened. After the original investigation ended, the woman at the heart of the allegations filed a civil lawsuit and Hockey Canada settled that earlier this year.

There is a non-disclosure agreement in place in that settlement, Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge has said.

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The National Hockey League is probing the 2018 allegation as well, and Hockey Canada has reopened a commissioned external probe by law firm Henein Hutchison into the 2018 allegations, which include eight players including members of its World Junior team that year.

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One player from the 2018 World Juniors team, Victor Mete, recently took to Twitter to call the allegations “appalling,” adding he was not involved. Since the eight alleged perpetrators haven’t been identified, he wrote, “the incident has left an unfortunate cloud over every player who was on the Canadian team.”

Global News reached out to the agents for all players who were on the roster at the time of the alleged incident. Several players have since released public statements denying their involvement.

Read the full list of responses from the team in this post on globalnews.ca.

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