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Water polo player suspended over alleged involvement in Canucks riot

Riot police walk in the street on June 15, 2011 in Vancouver. Vancouver broke out in riots after their hockey team the Vancouver Canucks lost in Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Rich Lam/2011 Getty Images

A rising star on Canada's junior water polo team has made an emotional public apology for his role in the Stanley Cup riots that rocked Vancouver last week.

A sobbing Nathan Kotylak told a local television station on camera that what he did was "dumb" and he was prepared to face the consequences and take responsibility for what occurred.

"I want to apologize to mom and dad, what I did does not reflect the love, values, lessons and great opportunities that you have provided for me," the teen from Maple Ridge, B.C., said in a report by Global News B.C.

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"I'm not looking for any sympathy, I just want to make sure that people know there have already been serious consequences and I anticipate there will be more," said Kotylak before he was embraced by both his tearful parents.

Kotylak turned himself into police after social media sites posted pictures showing a youth stuffing a burning rag into the gas tank of a police car in the violent aftermath of the Canucks' Stanley Cup loss to the Boston Bruins Wednesday.

Water Polo Canada said it suspended a player facing allegations stemming from the post-game riot and added that it would be investigating.

Kotylak's lawyer obtained a court order allowing the 17-year-old, who would typically remain unidentified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, to make his public apology.

Bart Findlay told The Canadian Press Kotylak's decision to speak openly showed he was a "very brave young man" who was accepting responsibility for his actions.

"He is a good kid who got caught up in the moment and made some bad choices," Findlay said. "It is refreshing to see someone accepting responsibility like he has."

Kotylak also said he was sorry on Facebook.

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"I apologize for the damage I've caused," he said on his page which carried a picture of him posing in a pool with a polo ball.

The one-line statement prompted a barrage of largely negative comments on his actions. Kotylak's father, who is a doctor in Maple Ridge, has also had his ranking on the online site RateMD drop after several comments on his son's behaviour were posted. Those comments are now under review.

"I felt my name had been tarnished and been thrown around in such a manner that this was necessary," Kotylak said on television as he struggled to control his emotions.

Vancouver police were unable to comment on any potential case against Kotylak as his age would prevent police from identifying him under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

"The fact that some people, youth included, are choosing to self-identify is something out of our control and not something we can speak to," said spokesman Lindsey Houghton.

Water Polo Canada also chose not to name the player it had suspended, but said the junior member had promised full co-operation with the disciplinary process.

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"We're taking immediate action due to the very serious nature of these allegations," Ahmed El-Awadi, executive director of the organization said in a release issued late Friday.

"His future status will be determined after an investigation has been completed and an official hearing has been conducted," said El-Awadi, adding that any criminal proceedings would take precedence over the internal administrative process.

Water Polo Canada manages Canada's National and Olympic teams for the sport.

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