Toronto Mayor Rob Ford broke his silence Friday and issued an unequivocal denial that he uses crack cocaine.
Reading from a prepared statement at city hall, Ford said he is not addicted to crack and does not use the illegal drug.
“There has been a serious accusation from the Toronto Star that I use crack cocaine. I don’t use crack cocaine nor am I an addict of crack cocaine,” the mayor said.
Ford has been silent since last Friday, when he brushed off stunning allegations by two media outlets that claimed their reporters had viewed video taken on an iPhone of the mayor smoking from a glass crack pipe.
John Cook, editor in chief of the U.S. website Gawker, and two reporters with the Toronto Star said they had independently viewed the video in recent weeks. The video clip was being shopped around by two men, one of whom claimed to be a drug dealer. They wanted "six figures" for the video, which neither media outlet obtained or independently verified.
"As for a video, I cannot comment on a video that I have never seen or does not exist," Ford said at the hastily called press conference Friday.
Ford said the controversy had "taken a great toll on my family and my friends and the great people of Toronto.”
“For the past week, on the advice of my solicitor, I was advised not to say a word I want to thank the people of this great city for their outpouring of support," Ford told reporters.
“It is most unfortunate, very unfortunate, that colleagues and the great people of this city have been exposed to the fact that I have been judged by the media without any evidence.”
“This administration is turning a corner," Ford said. "And I will continue to do what the great people of this city elected me to do and that is to keep taxes low, to improve customers service and to reduce the cost and size of government and invest in our infrastructure .”
Ford did not take questions.
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Ford had earlier denounced the allegations as “ridiculous” and accused The Star of having a vendetta against him, but the mayor had said little else until Friday and taken no questions from reporters.
Ford's lawyer, Dennis Morris has called the reports "false and defamatory."
In the week since the story broke, Ford has been dismissed as volunteer coach of his beloved high school football team (due to remarks he made about the school before this current scandal), been the butt of jokes around the world and fired his chief of staff, Mark Towhey, on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Gawker has raised more than $163,000 to buy the video through its "Rob Ford Crackstarter" campaign on crowdfunding site Indiegogo, though Cook warned Thursday night he's been unable to reach the sellers.