Hockey Canada said on Thursday that it will reopen a botched investigation of alleged gang rape by eight players, in hopes of rebuilding trust after being stripped of federal funding over the scandal.
Participation in the third-party probe will be mandatory for the players in question, some of whom were members of the country’s world junior team at the time of the sexual assault in 2018, the national federation said.
Hockey Canada acknowledged “anger and disappointment” over its handling of the case.
“We know we have not done enough to address the actions of some members of the 2018 national junior team or to end the culture of toxic behaviour within our game,” it said in an open letter. “For that, we unreservedly apologize.”
“Reopening the investigation is a step towards addressing the disappointment so many feel about the outcome of the process we followed,” it added.
A lawsuit filed in April by the woman, identified only as “E.M.” in court documents, against Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League and the players had been settled without attracting attention until local reports began circulating at the beginning of June about the alleged rape.
The woman claimed to have been sexually assaulted at a London, Ontario hotel after a Hockey Canada gala in June 2018.
Hockey Canada executives were grilled last month by lawmakers about the settlement and efforts to get to the bottom of the allegations, which they testified had been stymied by a lack of voluntary participation by players in the original probe.
Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge had been especially critical of Hockey Canada for its apparent lapse in “holding the players accountable,” and suspended the body’s federal funding until several criteria are met.
On Thursday, Hockey Canada vowed to try to meet those demands, including signing on with a new federal agency that has the power to investigate and sanction abuses in sports.
It also said it would review its operations, and require all players, coaches and others associated with the federation to undergo sexual violence and consent training.
Any players who decline to participate in the relaunched sexual assault investigation will be immediately banned from all Hockey Canada activities and programs, it said.
The National Hockey League is also conducting an investigation because some of the players are now in the league.