Figure skating: Nathalie Pechalat becomes French ice sports boss after rivals pull out citing coronavirus

PARIS (REUTERS) – Former ice dancer Nathalie Pechalat was elected president of the French ice sports federation after her three rivals pulled out of the vote citing coronavirus fears on Saturday (March 14).

The election took place after Didier Gailhaguet resigned the post in the wake of sexual harassment and rape scandals that shook French ice skating.

Gailhaguet resigned five weeks ago after several figure skaters alleged they were raped or sexually assaulted when they were minors by former coaches.

Pechalat, twice a world championships bronze medallist with dance partner Fabian Bourzat in 2012 and 2014, was elected with 504 votes while 154 votes were blank.

On Friday, Damien Boyer-Gibaud, Michel-Ange Marie-Calixte and Gilles Jouanny said they were pulling out of the race because of coronavirus fears.

In a joint statement, they said that 160 club presidents had been called on to attend a general assembly ahead of the vote while France had banned gatherings of more than 100 in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus, which as of Friday had infected 3,661 people and killed 79 in the country.

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