Athletics: Frenchman Jimmy Gressier targeted by an investigation for sexual harassment of an athlete

Athletics: Frenchman Jimmy Gressier targeted by an investigation for sexual harassment of an athlete

The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened a preliminary investigation targeting the French 5,000m record holder, Jimmy Gressier, for sexual harassment, according to information from the Team confirmed this Tuesday by AFP.

On September 1, 2023, Fabien Canu, the director of Insep, made a report, via article 40 which requires “any constituted authority, any public officer or civil servant who, in the exercise of his functions, acquires the knowledge of a crime or misdemeanor (…) to give notice thereof without delay to the public prosecutor”.

Previously, Fabien Canu had launched an internal investigation and the French Athletics Federation a disciplinary procedure, following the testimony of Claire Palou in the podcast World Champions, where she said she had suffered, during her adolescence, several “sexual assaults”.

Fabien Canu and Patrick Ranvier, the DTN of the FFA, offered to meet her, in particular to explain the different processes if she wished to denounce her attackers. Claire Palou will then discuss the sexual harassment she allegedly suffered from Gressier, after the two athletes had a very short relationship. Although Palou has not filed any complaint against the founder, the two authorities are triggering procedures: an internal investigation at Insep, a disciplinary procedure at the FFA.

“None of the stakeholders questioned as part of the investigation and the person concerned provide any probative element other than their isolated testimonies, which do not make it possible to corroborate the version of Mrs Y or Mr X”, points out the disciplinary committee of the FFA, which does not impose any sanctions. Same conclusions on the Insep side where after the internal investigation, Fabien Canu considers that there is no reason to refer the matter to the disciplinary body.

After an exchange with the sports department at the Ministry (to which Insep is attached), he will send, on September 1, a report to the Prosecutor. A common procedure, particularly since the wave of testimonies of sexual violence in sport, and obligatory for civil servants. The prosecution is now opening a preliminary investigation, even though Jimmy Gressier, presumed innocent, has received no notification.

“My client has already had the opportunity to explain himself, particularly to sporting authorities. He disputes the facts, awaits the outcome of this judicial investigation and reserves his explanations for the courts,” reacted Antoine Maisonneuve, Jimmy Gressier’s lawyer, in l’Equipe.

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