Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Didier Gailhaguet, the head of France's national figure skating for more than 20 years, stepped down Saturday amid pressure to resign over a sexual abuse scandal.
The French Ice Sports Federation boss had been facing pressure to resign from French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu, who asked him to do so Monday after four female skating champions accused three coaches of raping and sexually abusing them as minors in the 1970s through the 1990s.
Gailhaguet, 66, personally hasn't been implicated in the abuse.
"I have taken the wise decision to resign from my post," Gailhaguet said Saturday. "I have taken this decision with composure, with dignity, but without bitterness before this injustice."
Champion figure skater Sarah Abitbol, who is now 44, said in an autobiography released last week that her former coach Gilles Beyer raped her when she was between ages 15 and 17.
Beyer admitted to "intimate" and "inappropriate" relations with her, saying he was "sincerely sorry," but Abitbol has rejected his apology and said she wanted accountability for "all those who covered up [the crimes] both in the club and the federation."
Beyer went on to direct France's national skating teams after coaching Abitbol, but his technical adviser contract was terminated in 2001 after France's Sports Ministry probe found "serious acts" against young skaters.
Skating coach Didier Lucine told France info radio that he raised the alarm about Beyer 20 years ago.
Gailhaguet "really made a big mistake, and that was to put Gilles Beyer back on the circuit -- which posed big problems for the victims," Lucine said. "We hope that there have been no other victims, but I fear the worst anyway."
Three other skaters accused Beyer and two other coaches, Jean-Roland Racle and Michel Lotz, of abuse. Racle has denied the accusations and Lotz has not commented.