Rob Ford resurgent in Toronto mayor race; but new claims emerge

By Alastair Sharp TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has gained ground on challengers heading into an election this fall, according to a poll released on Thursday, but the boost was coupled with fresh claims about inappropriate behavior. The city's Catholic school authority released documents alleging that Ford had threatened a teacher, turned up late and inebriated to an important practice, swore at his players and made them roll in animal feces while working as a volunteer head football coach at Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School. The allegations have not been proven in court and Ford did not immediately respond to a call and email seeking comment. The documents were released after freedom-of-information requests by the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star newspapers and posted online. Ford was fired from the football coaching job in May last year, as allegations swirled about his possible use of crack cocaine. He gained global notoriety after admitting in November that he had smoked crack while in a "drunken stupor." Ford entered a rehabilitation facility in May. Throughout the controversy he said he would stand for re-election and has campaigned energetically. The mayor, who came to power pledging to cut waste at city hall and keep a lid on taxes, has a core base of suburban support. The Forum Research poll released on Thursday showed conservative candidate John Tory in the lead, with 36 percent of those polled picking him in a three-way race. But Ford, the only candidate to increase his support in the poll, came in at 31 percent. Left-leaning candidate Olivia Chow slipped back to third, with 26 percent, after leading earlier in the summer. "It looks like Rob Ford is on the comeback trail, and although John Tory still has the lead, it is narrowing," Forum President Lorne Bozinoff said. The poll was conducted on Aug. 25-26 via a random phone sampling of 1,945 voters. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus two percentage points 95 percent of the time, meaning the results could vary by that much either way. Torontonians will vote for their next mayor on Oct. 27. (Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Tom Brown)