Pascal Le Segretain via Getty Images
SPORT – Tense situation around the appointment of the new boss of the ice sports federations. The outgoing candidate, Nathalie Péchalat, described this Saturday, June 25 as “interstellar shame” the election at the head of the French Ice Sports Federation (FFSG) of her opponent Gwenaëlle Noury.
At midday, at the headquarters of the French National Olympic Sports Committee (CNOSF), the result falls: 52.3% for Gwenaëlle Noury, president of the Lorient club and unknown in the community. Forty votes (452 against 412) separate the two women out of the 161 clubs that voted.
Nathalie Péchalat, whose speech had been much more applauded than her rival, left the room with misty eyes before returning shortly after. In front of the microphones, Nathalie Péchalat then criticizes her successor for being guided by the former president of the FFSG Didier Gailhaguet, accused of having covered up a coach implicated in rape and sexual assault.
“It’s the interstellar shame for all ice sports, we come back to another system of values, to another functioning, to other methods which are not mine”, reacted Nathalie Péchalat, moved, with some journalists.
Half an hour later, the new president Gwenaëlle Noury, who had not spoken publicly during the campaign and had refused interviews, came forward with Patrice Martin, the current president of the French Federation of water skiing, which she chose as general secretary of the FFSG. “What is important for us is to be able to represent all the clubs and to ensure that the clubs are at the center of this federation,” she explained.
“Full success to the new president”
For Nathalie Péchalat, double European champion in ice dancing, this result is “a humiliation for the work carried out for two years and God knows that it was complicated and intense, in terms of energy and time”, a- she confided.
Asked whether she feared the return of Didier Gailhaguet, who led the FFSG from 1998 to 2004 and then from 2007 to 2020, she replied: “Yes I fear him, but that no longer concerns me”. According to Nathalie Péchalat, who succeeded Didier Gailhaguet in 2020, the latter “led the program and the campaign” of Gwenaëlle Noury.
“I have known for several weeks that it was going to be tight, I was confident in human nature, common sense, the discernment of each of the voters,” she added. Asked whether she will remain licensed to the FFSG, she replied that she “didn’t have time to think”.
In a tweet, the new Minister of Sports, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, however, wished “full success to the new president”, before adding: “The fight for the freedom of speech for victims and the fight against sexual violence , driven by Nathalie Péchalat, will have to be continued”.
Gwenaëlle Gigarel-Noury won and will carry the trajectory of the @ffsportsdeglace for which I wish him every success.
The fight for the free speech of victims and the fight against sexual violence, driven by @NPechalatOffwill have to be continued https://t.co/cbP4F2iPd0
— Amelie Oudea-Castera (@AOC1978) June 25, 2022
“All Noury supporters are Gailhaguet supporters!”
Elected two years ago after the scandal of sexual violence shaking the federation following the revelations of Sarah Abitbol, raped as a teenager by her trainer, the double European champion in ice dancing thought she had put the FFSG “on track” . In 2020, it was after a violent standoff with the government that Didier Gailhaguet had thrown in the towel.
But is Didier Gailhaguet really behind his candidacy, as Nathalie Péchalat claims? “We didn’t leave alone, obviously my natural approach was to consult as many people as possible,” she replies. “Didier Gailhaguet was consulted, I’m not hiding it because for me he remains passionate about ice sports, he remains someone who knows the workings of this federation”, she explained.
“I want to surround myself with competent people who know this federal machine and Didier is one of them. Now he is a consultant like all the others”, she contented herself with saying, wanting to avoid “controversy”.
In the press, Didier Gailhaguet had recently denied wanting to influence the election. “I have nothing to say, I left federal life (…) I am not a candidate for anything”, he had thus affirmed to the JDD.
Former skater Gwendal Peizerat, interviewed by AFP on the phone, believes that “it’s a white thread”, and accuses of “naivety” those who do not see that Didier Gailhaguet is fomenting his return. And if they know “then shame on them!”.
“All Gwenaëlle Noury’s supporters are Gailhaguet’s supporters!”, He assures us. The 2002 Olympic ice dancing champion is not part of Nathalie Péchalat’s campaign team but claims to be “de facto support” when “he saw the risks involved” in this election.
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