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Chad Kelly withdraws from training camp amid sexual harassment allegation

Chad Kelly during a post-game press conference in October 2022 (Photo from the Toronto Argonauts)

Reigning Canadian Football League MVP Chad Kelly has stepped away from training camp following a suspension passed down due to a sexual harassment allegation.

The CFL suspended the former Ole Miss quarterback now suiting up for the Toronto Argonauts for a minimum of nine regular season games and two preseason games. The suspension stemmed from an investigation into claims from a female strength and conditioning coach formerly with the Argonauts that Kelly had sexually harassed her and that she was wrongfully terminated from the franchise.

The professional quarterback was spotted on the field during the Argonauts’ rookie camp last week, but the franchise announced on Sunday that he would not be participating in team activities during training camp. On Wednesday, the Argonauts announced that Kelly had been placed on the team’s suspended list but later walked back that claim.

Meanwhile, Kelly, who is technically not suspended by the CFL franchise, has decided to take a break from football and focus on reflection as well as personal conduct improvement.

“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 a statement sent to Sportsnet.

“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 and to put in the work to earn both reinstatement in the CFL and everyone’s trust. I look forward to getting back on the field soon.”

Kelly, who has denied any wrongdoing, will not be reinstated for on-field play until he successfully undergoes confidential assessments by an independent expert and attends mandatory counseling sessions conducted by a gender-based violence expert.

The former Ole Miss standout is coming off his best professional season since his time in Oxford. In 2023, he won the George Reed Most Outstanding Player Award and earned the largest contract in CFL history after passing for 4,123 yards with 31 total touchdowns. Kelly was selected by the Denver Broncos in 2017 with the last pick of the NFL Draft before being released from the team after being arrested for criminal trespassing. He later had a short stint with the Indianapolis Colts before signing with Toronto.

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