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Athletics Canada bans longtime coach following sexual harassment case

Evon Buchanan is banned from Athletics Canada and any of its branches or clubs

On Monday night, Athletics Canada announced that Ontario track coach Evon Buchanan has been given a lifetime ban from coaching following an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment that took place in 2003 and 2004 at a track club that is no longer in operation. The two complainants in the case were teenagers at the time of the behaviour that sparked the complaints.

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Buchanan, who most recently coached at Project Athletics in Toronto, was suspended in September pending an investigation and is now banned by Athletics Canada after the office of the Athletics Canada commissioner determined that he, Buchanan, not only sexually harassed but sexually assaulted the complainants. The assaults took place in the coach’s home during massages he was not qualified to perform.

The investigation discovered that Buchanan was criminally charged with sexual assault of another athlete under similar circumstances in 2006 and that he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of common assault. He received probation and a suspended sentence. On the basis of his criminal record alone, he was subject to expulsion from Athletics Canada. However, the investigator decided to complete the investigation into the current complaints so as not to deprive the complainants of the chance to be heard.

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The athletes’ accounts of what happened were deemed credible and were corroborated by witnesses with whom they had shared what happened. One of the complainants said that “concern for the safety of other young athletes and a sense of responsibility, combined with her recent realization of the long-term effects of the experience, led her to decide to submit a complaint.”

Buchanan did not deny to having routinely administered massages but denied any intent to harass. His defences were deemed “less credible” than those of the complainants.