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Canadian Aubut resigns after sexual harassment allegation

Image: Canadian Olympic Committee president Marcel Aubut takes part in a news conference announcing the launch of an anonymous hotline to report athletes suspected of doping, in Ottawa November 5, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

(Reuters) – Marcel Aubut resigned as president of the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) on Saturday, three days after stepping aside pending an investigation into an allegation that he sexually harassed a female colleague.

The committee said it had received a complaint against Aubut, 67, last week and had retained a former Chief Justice of the Quebec Superior Court to head up an independent investigation.

However, “in light of his resignation and based on the wishes of the complainant”, that investigation has now ended, the COC said in a statement.

“The independent third party process investigating any other complaints will continue uninterrupted. We hope that anyone who has concerns will contact us,” the COC said.

“The events of the past week are deeply concerning to us. They have had a profound impact on our Olympic family. The COC has clear policies that include measures to address harassment of any kind in the workplace.

“Having a workplace environment that is healthy and safe for all of our employees and those attached to the Olympic movement is critical to our organization, and we will examine every possible way to improve those processes.”

Aubut, a lawyer and former co-owner of the National Hockey League’s Quebec Nordiques franchise until it relocated in 1995, was a strong advocate for Toronto to bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics. The city ultimately decided against a bid.

Later on Saturday, the COC announced that four-times Olympian Tricia Smith would replace Aubut as interim President.

“I live the values embodied in sport and take very seriously my role in helping spearhead change for the betterment of the Olympic movement in this country,” Smith said.

Smith, a lawyer based in Vancouver, captured a silver medal in rowing at the 1984 Los Angeles Los Angeles Olympics.

She is vice president of FISA, the International Rowing Federation, and a board member of the International Court of Arbitration for Sport.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles and Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina.; Editing by Alan Baldwin/Greg Stutchbury)

Copyright 2015 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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