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Originally published May 23, 2013 at 12:04 PM | Page modified May 23, 2013 at 1:33 PM

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Embattled Toronto mayor fires chief of staff

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, caught up in a scandal over a video purportedly showing him smoking crack cocaine, fired his chief of staff on Thursday.

Associated Press

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TORONTO —

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, caught up in a scandal over a video purportedly showing him smoking crack cocaine, fired his chief of staff on Thursday.

A statement from the mayor's office gave no reason for Mark Towhey's dismissal. Towhey, who was escorted from City Hall by security, would only say that he did not resign.

City Councilor Jaye Robinson she was told Towhey's firing was unrelated to the scandal, but rather had something to do with football. Ford was fired as coach of a Catholic high school football team on Wednesday - a development school officials also denied was related to the scandal.

The alleged crack smoking video has not been released publicly and it's authenticity has not been verified. Reports on the gossip website Gawker and in the Toronto Star claimed it was taken by men who said they had sold the drug to Ford. The Associated Press hasn't seen the video.

The Star reported that two journalists had watched a video that appears to show Ford, sitting in a chair, inhaling from what appears to be a glass crack pipe. Gawker and the Star said the video was shown to them by a drug dealer who had been trying to sell it for a six-figure sum.

The Star also reported that in the video Ford allegedly made a racist remark about high school football students he coached.

Toronto Catholic District School Board spokesman John Yan said the decision to remove Ford as the head of Don Bosco Eagles Football program on Wednesday had to do with the comments the mayor made to the Sun TV Network in March that parents found offensive.

Ford has been ducking the media and his only comments on the scandal came Friday, a day after the story broke, when he called the crack smoking allegations "ridiculous" and said that the Toronto Star was out to get him.

Ford has been embroiled in almost weekly controversies about his behavior since being elected in 2010, but the crack video allegations are the most serious allegations he's faced yet.

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