U.S. Speedskating places accused coach on leaveU.S. Speedskating promised a thorough investigation Monday into allegations of abuse against the head coach of the national short track team, even while promoting an assistant also accused of wrongdoing. An attorney for athletes who made the charges vowed they would never again compete for any of the coaches who allegedly who mistreated them.
The governing body announced that assistant coach Yeo Jun-hyung will step in for Chun Jae-Su, who was placed on administrative leave after issuing a statement denying any verbal, physical or psychological abuse.
Yeo and a former assistant, Jimmy Jang, also were named in the complaint made by 14 members of the national team, including 2010 Olympic medalists Allison Baver, J.R. Celski, Alyson Dudek, Travis Jayner and Jordan Malone. Five former skaters also signed on.
“While Jun was named in the grievance, there have been no specific claims made against him and therefore he will coach the team for now,’’ said Tamara Castellano, a spokeswoman for U.S. Speedskating.
Athletes who filed the complaint are boycotting the national team, working instead with a local program at the Utah Olympic Oval in suburban Salt Lake City.
“They will not skate for these coaches,’’ said their attorney, Edward Williams. “They will end their careers rather than skate for a team that includes any of the three coaches who have been abusing them.’’
Williams said he will ask the American Arbitration Association for an expedited hearing, with the goal of getting a new coaching staff in place before fall World Cup teams are selected at the U.S. Single Distance Championships. That competition will be held Sept. 27-30 at the oval in Kearns, Utah.
A code of conduct complaint accuses Chun of slamming an athlete against a wall and repeatedly hitting him, throwing bottles and chairs at skaters, and repeatedly telling female skaters they were “fat” and “disgusting.’’ It also claims Chun told his skaters to be “obnoxious’’ to Canadian rivals at the 2011 World Team Championships.
But the most serious allegations were against Chun, the former head coach of the South Korea national team. He was hired in 2007 and credited with improving the U.S. team before the Vancouver Games, where American short track skaters led by Apolo Anton Ohno and Katherine Reutter won six medals.
Neither Ohno nor Reutter signed the complaints.
The long track team is not part of the allegations, though it also trains at the Utah oval and is undoubtedly affected by all the turmoil.