Athletics Canada hands lifetime ban to former sprinter Desai Williams


Former Canadian Olympic sprinter Desai Williams has been handed a lifetime ban by Athletics Canada for violating the organization’s sexual harassment policy.

Athletics Canada is the governing body for track and field in the country. The alleged conduct took place in 2010.

According to an Athletics Canada news release, a former adult athlete brought the complaint against Williams, their former coach, prompting an investigation that began March 5, 2018.

An independent investigator discovered Williams engaged in behaviour that violated the organization’s policy « by abusing the power imbalance inherent in his coaching position, » rule 129.02 a) and b) which states:

Harassment may:

a) Happen between an individual against another individual, either at the same hierarchical level or between individuals with different hierarchical levels and/or different contractual status;

b) Take the form bullying, characterized by the underlying perception of an imbalance of power, and by the repeated or habitual use of force; physical and/or emotional aggression or coercion to intimidate or dominate others.

Williams is barred from participation in any role or attendance at any competition or activity that is organized, convened, held or sanctioned by Athletics Canada or by a member of Athletics Canada, including any affiliated club or association.

In the news release, Athletics Canada noted its top priority is « creating and maintaining a healthy, safe and secure sporting environment for its athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and employees. Harassment of any kind is incompatible with that environment and strictly prohibited. »

Williams, 59, competed for Canada in the 1984 and 1988 Summer Olympics. He won a bronze medal in 1984 in Los Angeles as a member of Canada’s 4×100-metre relay team.

He also competed in the 100 metres, including the final of the 1988 Olympics in which teammate Ben Johnson won gold before being subsequently stripped of the medal after he was found to have used performance-enhancing drugs (PED).

Williams later admitted he also had used PEDs.

Williams was fired as a coach by Athletics Canada in 2015.


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