Water polo player suspended by national body over riot allegations

MONTREAL – Water Polo Canada has suspended a high-level polo player over allegations he was involved in Wednesday night’s Stanley Cup riot in Vancouver.

The suspension stems from some websites that have posted pictures showing a youth stuffing a burning rag into the gas tank of a police car.

Ahmed El-Awadi, executive director of Water Polo Canada, said in a release that the suspended player, who has not been identified, has contacted the organization through a lawyer to indicate he will co-operate fully with any disciplinary process.

El-Awadi says the organization is taking immediate action because of the serious nature of the allegations.

Vancouver Police would not comment on whether it is actively investigating the specific individual and if charges are laid, he couldn’t be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Under Water Polo Canada’s policies and procedures, a hearing will be held at the earliest possible date to consider the facts of the case and to determine whether disciplinary action is warranted.

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“In the interim, given the severity of the allegations and the potential negative impact on…(other players), Water Polo Canada has issued a provisional suspension against the athlete for all team activities,” El-Awadi said in a statement.

“We also want to ensure that the athlete is given fair and reasonable access to due process. His future status will be determined after an investigation has been completed and an official hearing has been conducted.”

El-Awadi indicated that Water Polo Canada has scheduled an investigation and hopes to have an internal hearing within the next seven days. He added that any criminal proceedings would take precedence over the internal administrative process.