French Olympic Committee in turmoil year ahead of Games

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Sports Minister Amelie Oudea Castera on Thursday called on the French National Olympic Committee (CNOSF) to rally together after their president Brigitte Henriques quit her post only 14 months before Paris hosts the Olympic Games.

Henriques’ dramatic resignation at the commit-tee’s general assembly comes after a year-and-a-half of internal squabbling and a very public disagreement with her predecessor Denis Masseglia.

Her resignation will not affect the organising of the Games which is handled by the Paris Olympics organising committee headed by France’s three-time canoeing gold medalist Tony Estanguet.

Henriques had insisted prior to the assembly she had no intention of resigning but to the astonishment of the attendees she said she would step down on June 29. She had taken a few weeks off at the end of 2022 to recover after her right hand man Dider Seminet had been cast aside in September but the atmosphere had not improved when she returned to her post.

The CNOSF general secretary Astrid Guyart will act in a caretaker role till a new president is elected “in the next three months”, the body said in a statement.

“There have been no winners today,” Oudea-Castera told AFP. She added, however, there could be “a victory, that of ethics and democracy.”

Oudea Castera added she had summoned the board of the CNOSF to meet with her next Tuesday to clear the air and plot the way forward.

Henriques’s resignation was broadly welcomed by the presidents of the French sports federations.

“It is a courageous decision which will certainly diminish the ongoing conflicts as we were spiralling out of control,” handball federation president Philippe Bana told AFP.

The resignation of Henriques — a former vice-president of the French Football Federation — is just the latest drama to affect French sports in the past year.

Several federations — football, rugby, gymnastics and tennis — have become embroiled in scandals.

There have been two high profile resignations as a result — football’s octogenarian president Noel Le Graet went in February following accusations of sexual and psychological harassment.

Former sports minister and French rugby coach Bernard Laporte also quit his role as president of the French Rugby Federation in January after being convicted of corruption — months away from France hosting the men’s Rugby World