Marcel Aubut has stepped down as Canadian Olympic Committee President ©Getty Images

Marcel Aubut has stepped down as President of the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) for the duration of a sexual harassment investigation which has been opened against him.

A complaint was received by the COC last Friday (September 25) and they have retained Francois Rolland, former Chief Justice of the Quebec Superior Court, to spearhead an independent inquiry.

The 67-year-old from Quebec has also stepped down from his chairmanship of the Canadian Olympic Foundation, the development arm of the COC.

According to the Globe and Mail, the accusations were made by a female staff member of the Canadian Olympic Foundation, and relate to “verbal comments” he is alleged to have made.

"Mr. Aubut has requested, and the Canadian Olympic Committee has agreed, that he step away from his duties as Canadian Olympic Committee President and Canadian Olympic Foundation chairman for the duration of the investigation," the COC said in the statement.

Aubut has vowed to co-operate fully with those responsible for investigating the remarks attributed to him and "setting the record straight", adding that he "never intended to offend or upset anyone by anything he might have said in the performance of his duties".

Marcel Aubut (left) pictured with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics ©Getty Images
Marcel Aubut (left) pictured with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics ©Getty Images

A lawyer by trade, Aubut has been a member of the COC since 2000 and became President-elect in 2009 before assuming the role permanently the following year.

He is also a former President and owner of the Quebec Nordiques ice hockey franchise.

The official has played a prominent role this summer during the Toronto 2015 Pan and Parapan American Games, before which he invited officials including International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach to Montreal for a COC Excellence Day.

He also led calls for a Toronto bid for the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics before a decision was made to ultimately not launch an attempt last month.

A member of the Executive Council of the Association of National Olympic Committees, he has also been mooted as a possible contender in next year's race for the Presidency of the Pan American Sports Organization.

Aubut is not the first Canadian sports administrator to have faced sexual abuse allegations in recent years, with a case against Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Organising Committee chief executive John Furlong thrown out in February.

This followed a 17 month investigation into alleged abuses in the 1960s and 1970s. 

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