Canadian speedskater allegedly sabotaged by U.S. rival
Published Thursday, September 20, 2012 6:53PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 20, 2012 11:47PM EDT
A U.S. speedskater allegedly followed his coach’s instructions to sabotage Canadian skater Olivier Jean at the 2011 world short-track championship in Poland, according to court documents.
Arbitration documents describe a series of conversations in which U.S. speedskater Simon Cho allegedly told some of his teammates that he tampered with Jean’s skates at the March 2011 competition in Warsaw. Cho allegedly said that his coach Jae Su Chun instructed him to do so.
Jean was forced out of the 5,000-metre relay final due to a malfunctioning skate. The Canadian team had to compete with only three skaters and finished fourth.
The document describes Cho relaying the tampering incident to a fellow teammate on the plane ride back to the U.S., saying he “had done a number of unspeakable things for them,” referring to Chun and assistant coach Hyung Yeo.
“It is my darkest secret and I regret it,” Cho is alleged to have said to a teammate two months later.
Yeo is described as having knowledge of the sabotage.
Speed Skating Canada, while aware of the tampering allegations, has refused to comment until the issue is resolved in court.
The sabotage allegation is part of a bigger controversy involving the U.S. speedskating team. A number of skaters have filed complaints against Chun, their coach, alleging he abused them verbally and physically, abetted by Yeo and assistant coach Jimmy Jang.
Examples of the alleged abuse described in the document include slamming an athlete against a wall and repeatedly hitting him for “disrespecting” him; throwing a notebook binder at an athlete; and telling skaters they were “worthless” and “disgusting.”
According to allegations made in the document, Chun also told members of his team to “be obnoxious” to Canadian skaters in a shared locker room during the championship.
Chun has denied the allegations in statements to media, but admitted to pushing one skater. An internal investigation has been launched.
U.S. Speedskating suspended him last weekend pending the outcome of the investigation.
The 13 athletes who are claimants in the arbitration are requesting that neither Chun nor Yeo be allowed to coach or travel in any capacity with the 2012-2013 World Cup Short Track team.
Seven members of the U.S. team, among them Olympic bronze-medallist Lana Gehring, have said the allegations against Chun are "baseless" and a "false attack on his character,” and have signed a statement supporting him.
With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press