Chad Kelly withdraws from Argos training camp amid sexual harassment allegation

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Toronto Argonauts quarterback Chad Kelly has formally withdrawn from the Canadian Football League club’s training camp.

Kelly made the announcement Thursday in a statement provided to The Canadian Press. The CFL’s outstanding player last year wants to digest the findings of the league-mandated investigation that figured prominently in his suspension for both Toronto’s exhibition games and at least nine regular-season contests.

Kelly said he wants to “work to earn both reinstatement in the CFL and everyone’s trust.”

“I have had to take time to process the findings from the CFL investigation released last week as they were not consistent with the person I am, nor the team and community leader I strive to be,” Kelly said in the statement. “I want to be the leader who brings people together, and I strongly believe that all workplaces should be safe and healthy for every member of the team.

“While my legal team awaits the legal findings for review, and explores options to clarify a number of the conclusions from the report, and considers next steps, I will take full advantage of this counselling opportunity to learn, grow and better myself. At the same time, I want to support the Argonauts organization as it prepares for the season and have made the decision to withdraw from training camp to minimize distractions for the team.”

Last week, the CFL suspended Kelly for violating its gender-based violence policy. It followed an independent investigation into a lawsuit filed by a former strength-and-conditioning coach against Kelly for sexual harassment and the Argos for wrongful dismissal.

Two days later, Kelly was on the field during Toronto’s rookie camp at the University of Guelph. He wasn’t in equipment and didn’t practise but afterwards Argos GM Mike (Pinball) Clemons said Kelly’s presence was within the conditions of the CFL’s discipline.

A league spokesman said Kelly was on the field at Toronto’s discretion.

Like all CFL clubs, Toronto opened training camp Sunday but also announced Kelly wouldn’t be participating in team activities. Despite the release of his statement, Kelly hadn’t been seen at the University of Guelph since rookie camp.

As per the suspension, Kelly must undergo confidential assessments by an independent expert and attend mandatory counselling sessions conducted by a gender-based violence expert. Both must be satisfactorily completed before the CFL will consider Kelly’s reinstatement and it reserves the right to modify his discipline.

“Chad just didn’t want to be a distraction,” said Toronto head coach Ryan Dinwiddie. “It’s good for him to do his counselling and all of the classes.”

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