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Competitors speed during the women's mass start ISU Speed Skating World Cup event in Berlin. (FABRIZIO BENSCH/Reuters)
Competitors speed during the women's mass start ISU Speed Skating World Cup event in Berlin. (FABRIZIO BENSCH/Reuters)

U.S. Speedskating coach put on leave amid allegations of abuse Add to ...

The U.S. Speedskating board of directors has placed one of its top short track coaches, former South Korean head coach Chun Su Jae, on administrative leave while it investigates allegations contained in a complaint lodged by several skaters at the national training centre that Chun resorted to physical and verbal abuse during training. And national team skaters have asked the U.S. Olympic Committee to bar two of Chun’s assistants, Jimmy Jang and Jun Hyung Yeo, from coaching or travelling with the 2012-13 World Cup team for the U.S. The skaters’ request came after Yeo was temporarily put in charge of the program.

Nineteen athletes with U.S. Speedskating, including five Olympic medal winners, signed the grievance about Chun – who has been U.S. Skating’s national training program head coach for five years, since 2007. Prior to that, he was a coach with the Canadian national team in 2006-07 and South Korea’s head coach.

The picture that emerged during a media teleconference Monday was one of a sport organization in turmoil.

“The athletes we represent have made known that they will not represent the United States in the upcoming World Cup international competitions if made to participate on a team on which coach [Chun] and/or his two assistant coaches are members, as coaches or in any other capacity,” said Edward Williams, a lawyer for some of the skaters.

A U.S. Skating spokesman said, “Jang is not a coach with U.S. Speedskating. He was here on an interim bases filling in while someone was on vacation. [Yeo] was named in the grievance but there was no specific claims made against him and so for that reason it is U.S. Skating decision that for the stability of the program and because athletes in the National Racing Program know him and are comfortable with him, he will be coaching while Mr. Chun is on leave.”

U.S. Speedskating said that “until further notice, the practice sessions for all speedskating athletes will be closed,” and athletes have been asked not to speak about the situation.

The complaints include accusations that Chun slammed a skater against a wall, that he insulted female skaters by telling them they were fat and that he forced other skaters to train while they were recovering from injuries.

“I have not abused athletes in any way and am confident I will be found innocent at the outcome of the investigation,” Chun said in a statement of denial.

U.S. Speedskating communications director Tamara Castellano said the federation hoped that the investigation would be completed before the trials begin Sept. 27.

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