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Aquatics

Swimming coach Matt Bell suspended over sex assault charges

Swimming coach Matt Bell of Ajax, Ont. was suspended by Swimming Canada Wednesday after criminal charges were brought against him for sexual assault, sexual exploitation and four counts of luring a person under 18 years.

Owner of Ontario swim club coached Canada's FINA 2015 World Junior Championships team

High performance coach Matt Bell has been suspended for life by Swimming Canada after he was charged with sexual assault, sexual exploitation and four counts of luring a person under 18 years. (Swimming Canada)

Swimming coach Matt Bell has been suspended by the sport's governing body in Canada after criminal charges were brought against him for sexual assault, sexual exploitation and four counts of luring a person under 18 years.

"We have suspended Mr. Bell from all swimming activities and interactions under Swimming Canada's jurisdiction pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings," Swimming Canada CEO Ahmed El-Awadi said Wednesday in a statement.

Bell is the owner of a swimming club in Ajax, Ont., a community east of Toronto. 

The Durham Regional Police sexual assault unit launched an investigation in August after a teenage girl who was a member of the club alleged she'd been sexually assaulted in 2011. Investigators said no other complaints had been brought forward.

Bell, who was arrested Tuesday night, is being held for a bail hearing.

Bell, 35, had past roles with Swimming Canada including being part of the coaching staff at the 2015 FINA World Junior Championships and the recent Mid-Eastern World Cup Tour.

"Immediately upon becoming aware of the charges, we began the process of contacting athletes and parents who have had interactions with Mr. Bell in connection with Swimming Canada national teams, tours and programs, and we should have all notifications complete within the next 24 hours," El-Awadi said.

"Swimming Canada takes this situation very seriously," he said. "Anyone who wishes to come forward, either as a witness or a victim, is encouraged to do so. Ensuring a safe environment for all participants in our sport is our utmost priority." 

With files from The Canadian Press

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