The realm of Ivorian Taekwondo finds itself embroiled in a tumultuous situation following allegations of sexual harassment, leading to the provisional suspension of both the National Technical Director (NTD) and the national coach of Ivory Coast’s premier Olympic sport. An ongoing investigation is underway, with the Ministry of Sports actively involved in addressing the matter.
As of now, the Ivorian Taekwondo Federation has not officially commented on the issue. Nevertheless, a formal complaint has been lodged by a high-level athlete from the national team, accusing the national coach of sexual harassment. This complaint has been filed with both the Ivorian National Olympic Committee and the judicial authorities, with the coach currently presumed innocent until proven otherwise.
In a telephone interview, Federation President Jean-Marc Yacé confirmed the provisional suspension of the National Technical Director (NTD), who faces accusations of negligence, and the national coach, who is the subject of the harassment allegations. The NTD, in response, decried his dismissal in writing and stated that he had proposed precautionary measures concerning the coach.
The taekwondo athlete who initiated the complaint initially wrote to the NTD on December 1, seeking clarification on the specific criteria that led to her non-selection for the African Championships. She emphasized her standing as the “highest-ranked Ivorian” globally in the -57kg category. Not receiving a response from the NTD, she escalated her concerns to the federation president, alleging victimization for her refusal to accept advances from the national coach. In her correspondence, she also indicated that others had faced similar experiences.
Former president of the Grand-Bassam departmental league, Jean-Marie Kouadjan, voiced his condemnation of the prevailing silence within the organization and criticized the federation’s perceived leniency towards recurring cases of this nature. “She dared to say no and reveal everything; today, we should express our gratitude towards her,” asserted the Taekwondo master in a telephone conversation.
As the investigation unfolds, the Ivorian Taekwondo community faces a critical moment, grappling with issues of transparency, accountability, and the imperative to foster a safe and respectful environment within the sport.