Toronto Argonauts quarterback Chad Kelly was back on the field Thursday, just two days after being suspended by the CFL for violating its gender-based violence policy.

On Tuesday, Kelly was banned from playing in Toronto's two pre-season games and at least nine regular-season contests. That followed a league investigation into a lawsuit filed by a former strength-and-conditioning coach against Kelly for sexual harassment and the Argos for wrongful dismissal.

Kelly was on the field on the second day of Toronto's rookie camp at the University of Guelph, but not in equipment. Dressed in shorts, a long-sleeved shirt and ball cap, he appeared to be working with Argos quarterbacks.

Afterwards, Toronto GM Mike (Pinball) Clemons told reporters Kelly's presence was within the conditions of the CFL's discipline. A league spokesman said Kelly was on the field at the Argos' discretion.

"He (Kelly) was there but did not practise," Clemons said. "He's allowed to be out here, the league has given him that permission and we will follow the league's direction."

Kelly was the CFL's outstanding player last season after leading Toronto to a league-best and franchise-record 16-2 mark. But the Argos' campaign ended with a 38-17 loss to the Montreal Alouettes in the East Division final.

The CFL investigation came after a complainant filed a statement of claim with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, alleging a pattern of harassment by Kelly, beginning with unwanted romantic advances and escalating into instances of threatening language.

The coach said the Argos didn't act when told of Kelly's behaviour and claims assistant GM John Murphy said she "opened a can of worms that didn't need to be opened."

Clemons said he wasn't aware of the allegations until they became public. He added he never received a report of the CFL's investigation but believes the Argos' legal representatives got an executive summary.

"It's really important to know that building a healthy and positive workplace for everyone is a personal priority for myself and our organization," Clemons said. "As the club shared Tuesday after being informed of the outcome of the league's investigation and resulting discipline, we will respectfully abide by the league's decision.

"But more than that, we're going to take the steps needed to protect against this situation occurring again . . . .it's not good enough just to comply with the league rules. If we're going to take this seriously we need to continue to learn and grow in this area and that's for me to."

The complainant said she was informed in January her contract with the club would not be renewed. The complainant had joined the franchise in 2018 and said her contract had previously been continually renewed.

Kelly's camp continues to ponder its options. He could appeal the suspension and theoretically be allowed to play until an arbitration hearing. If that happens, Clemons said the Argos will decide then whether to allow him back or issue their own discipline.

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.

If Kelly complies with all conditions to the CFL's satisfaction, he could return for Toronto's home game versus Saskatchewan on Aug. 22.

Clemons said he's not looking that far ahead.

"I've got no expectations at this point," he said. "There's a lot of work that needs to be done on everybody's behalf."

"This (workplace equality) is something I'm really passionate about, making sure that there's space for people. I try to be respectful in everything I do so that is our hope," he added.

With Kelly suspended, sophomores Cameron Dukes and Bryan Scott are expected to battle for starting duties. Both played sparingly last year as Kelly made 16 regular-season starts although Dukes went under centre for the other two games.

"Right now that's probably the last thing on my mind," Clemons said. "If I could do it differently I'd ask a whole lot more questions a lot earlier."

There was no announcement regarding penalties or sanctions against the Argos. Clemons said anyone looking for accountability within the organization need not look further than him.

"If you want to blame someone, I'm the guy," he said. "If that's anybody, it's me because I'm the boss.

"I don't know what's past a goal but that thing that's past the goal is what we want. We want to be committed to making sure that this is a safe and healthy environment for everybody."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 9, 2024.