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French Olympian on sex abuse scandals: 'We want victims to speak out'

Olympic sprinter Ayodelé Ikuesan talks to FRANCE 24 about ways to tackle sex abuse in French sport.
Olympic sprinter Ayodelé Ikuesan talks to FRANCE 24 about ways to tackle sex abuse in French sport. © FRANCE 24 screengrab

France's sports minister on Friday announced the first of a raft of measures aimed at combating sex abuse in sport. FRANCE 24 asked Olympic sprinter Ayodelé Ikuesan what she thinks needs to be done to address the scourge.

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Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu has been on the attack since skaters, starting with Olympic gold medallist Sarah Abitbol, went public earlier this year saying they had been sexually abused as minors.

Convening a national convention on the subject on Friday, Maracineanu said she would introduce tougher checks on the two million volunteers who run French amateur sport as part of a campaign against sex abuse.

"Our system has been flawed for too long, on all levels. Let's not wait, let's act now," the minister told delegates gathered in Paris, before chiding the sports federations that failed to show up for the event.

Maracineanu, who plans to present a detailed roadmap in May, also said she was doubling the staff of a ministerial listening unit where victims or others can report problems.

French sport has been rattled since Abitbol, a 10-time national skating champion, released a book in January in which she accused her former coach of raping her in the early 1990s, when she was aged 15 to 17.

On the same day Abitbol released her book, sports daily L’Equipe ran a lengthy report into sexual abuse in skating, swimming and tennis.

"I never imagined that I would speak out without shame,” Abitabol said on Friday, addressing the convention in Paris. “Shame turns into pride, it's my greatest victory, my Olympic gold medal," she added.

FRANCE 24 asked Olympic sprinter Ayodelé Ikuesan what measures she thinks are required to root out sex abuse from French sport.

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