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Athletics Canada says CEO Dave Bedford retiring immediately

Board held emergency meeting, decision on retirement made by mutual agreement


By Lori Ewing

TORONTO — Days after complaints about his sexually graphic Twitter exchanges, Dave Bedford is out as the CEO of Athletics Canada.

The national sport organization announced Wednesday evening that Bedford was retiring immediately, by mutual agreement.

The news comes on the heels of a board of directors’ emergency meeting on Monday after complaints about Bedford’s social media activity. The CBC reported that the vote to terminate Bedford was nearly unanimous.

Mat Gentes, who’s the current chief operating officer and has been with Athletics Canada since 2005, has been named interim-CEO.

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“We have a strong leadership group in place,” Helen Manning, Athletics Canada’s board chair, said in a statement. “Over the coming days and weeks the board will discuss the move forward plan. The board is very comfortable that the executive leadership team will work together to maintain business as usual for our members, associates, stakeholders and partners.”

The complaints against Bedford arose over numerous tweets that dated back as far as the Tokyo Olympics.

In one exchange, a woman alludes to oral sex. A tweet from Bedford’s account responds: “You are killing me girl. Don’t know whether to laugh or cry reading your tweets!”

In another, a woman remarks about not wearing a bra. A tweet from Bedford’s account responds: “Always important to have a couple of firm, upstanding individuals.”

In a lengthy Facebook post Wednesday, Bedford wrote: “It is with a tremendous amount of excitement, and loads and loads of thanks to more people than I can mention that I have officially retired today.”

Bedford was hired by Athletics Canada in 2019 after numerous high-profile sports positions over 40 years in the business.

In his Facebook post he wrote that he was already semi-retired at that point, but “agreed to come back to work for a period of 18-24 months to mentor staff before I retired for good. . . now 34 months later and on the heels of Athletics Canada’s best Olympic Games since 1928, well past the time I told AC I would give it, and with COVID still raging, it is time for me to retire for good.”

Bedford was the executive director, marketing and communications with the Canadian Olympic Committee, the executive director of Team Canada for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the senior vice-president of business operations for the Toronto Argonauts and the 100th Grey Cup Festival.

A recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Medal, Bedford has also served on the board of directors for the Canadian Olympic Committee and Water Polo Canada, and was the chef de mission for the 2004 Olympic Games.

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