Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse’s coach is set to be investigated by a sports oversight body in the United States over allegations of sexual misconduct.
Rana Reider, a Florida-based sprinting expert, has worked closely with the Olympic gold medalist for nearly three years and is credited for turning Mr. De Grasse’s career around. Mr. Reider is facing multiple complaints of sexual misconduct. The investigation was first reported by The Guardian.
Athletics Canada, the national body governing the sport, said it is aware of the accusations against Mr. Reider, and has referred the matter to its independent commissioner, who will monitor the U.S. investigation.
When asked if any Canadian athletes were involved in lodging an accusation against Mr. Reider, Athletics Canada CEO David Bedford said the group had not received any complaints against him.
The U.S. Center for SafeSport, which oversees accusations of abuse, said in a statement it “does not comment on matters to protect the integrity of the investigative process.” The organization’s disciplinary database does not list Mr. Reider as of Wednesday evening.
Ryan Stevens, Mr. Reider’s lawyer, told CNN that his client had yet to receive details of the accusations from investigators.
A representative of British Athletics, which has multiple national-team athletes training in Florida with Mr. Reider, confirmed to The Globe and Mail that a series of complaints of a sexual nature have been lodged against the coach.
“An investigation in the U.S. is imminent,” British Athletics said. It has told its national team athletes they must immediately cease training with Mr. Reider.
British Athletics had previously employed Mr. Reider as a sprint-relay coach, working primarily with the women’s 4x100-metre team, before he departed for the United States to become an independent coach in the fall of 2014.
After speaking with the U.S. Center for SafeSport this week about the accusations against Mr. Reider, British Athletics took the extraordinary step of threatening to rescind funding for athletes and that they risk being excluded from coming international competitions if they continue working with the coach while the investigation is under way.
Athletics Canada said such a recommendation would have to come from its independent commissioner before it would bar Mr. De Grasse from continuing to work with Mr. Reider.
The organization declined to say if it has made contact with Mr. De Grasse, or if he would be required to pause training with Mr. Reider. Representatives for Mr. De Grasse did not reply to requests for comment.
Mr. Reider began working with Mr. De Grasse in late 2018, after a two-year stretch when the phenom from Markham, Ont., struggled with health issues and his career looked to be in jeopardy.
He is well-known in the athletics community as a sprinting guru, first working with collegiate athletes in the NCAA, and then international sprinters on the Dutch and British national teams.
Mr. De Grasse is a centrepiece of Mr. Reider’s world-class training group, Tumbleweed Track Club. The group also features top British sprinter Adam Gemili and American Trayvon Bromell. Mr. De Grasse’s partner, Nia Ali, a world-class hurdler, also trains in the group.
After the coaching change, Mr. De Grasse won a gold medal in the 200 metres, a bronze in the 100 metres and a bronze in the 4x100-metre relay at the Tokyo Olympics.
Mr. De Grasse and Mr. Reider share a key sponsor in Puma. The German athletics brand finances Mr. Reider’s training group, and has Mr. De Grasse signed to a lucrative multiyear endorsement deal worth up to US$30-million.
Since its creation in 2017, the U.S. Center for SafeSport has been overwhelmed with complaints. It lists more than 1,600 individuals who have faced disciplinary action for physical, emotional or sexual abuses.
Canada does not have a national body to investigate sports-related abuse. Instead, individual sports organizations are left to hire contractors and police themselves in disciplinary matters.
Last July, then-heritage minister Steven Guilbeault announced the creation of a national independent safe sport “mechanism” to address abuse allegations, after widespread criticism that national sport organizations were incapable of self-investigation. The program is to receive $2.1-million in funding, but does not yet have a launch date.