NEWS
01/19/2016 13:33 EST | Updated 01/19/2017 00:12 EST

Canadian Olympic Committee fires three senior people in wake of critical report

Three high-ranking Canadian Olympic Committee officials have been dismissed days after the release of a critical report on how the organization handled allegations of sexual harassment by its former president.

Two sources confirmed Tuesday that chief sport officer Caroline Assalian, executive director of operations Judy Crute and human resources manager Robert Cousin are no longer with the organization.

A COC spokesman said the organization would not comment on personnel issues.

Marcel Aubut stepped down as president in October after women accused him of sexual comments and unwanted touching. The 68-year-old lawyer has not faced any criminal charges.

He apologized to "those who may have been offended by my behaviour'' in his resignation statement.

The COC subsequently hired the independent law and human resources firm Rubin Thomlinson to conduct a review of the organization's policies and practices in the wake of the scandal.

From more than 100 interviews with current and former COC staff, one of the report's findings was "a majority of COC staff interviewed reported experiencing or witnessing harassment (both sexual and personal) during the president's tenure, both inside and outside of the COC's offices.''

The report also said that "certain managers or members of the senior leadership team admitted to being in possession of information that suggested that harassment was occurring for COC staff.''

The COC has committed to adopting all eight recommendations in the report.

The organization is responsible for preparing Canada's athletes for an Olympic Games environment and looking after needs on the ground during the Games. The opening ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro open Aug. 5.

The COC is headquartered in Montreal, but also has offices in Toronto.

Assalian has worked for the COC for over 20 years and as chief sport officer since 2011. She has also served as an adviser on the International Olympic Committee's 2022 evaluation commission.

The former basketball star at Concordia was included on among Canada's top 20 women of influence by the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport in 2008, 2011 and 2013.

When the report was made public Jan. 13, new president Tricia Smith told reporters on a conference call that a new human resources executive and a corporate secretary would be hired to improve governance.

Smith also said the COC board had voted to retain Chris Overholt as chief executive officer, but Smith promised: "This will not be business as usual. We will be holding everyone's feet to the fire, myself and Chris included."

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press