Embattled U.S. speedskating coaches Jae Su Chun and Jun Hyung Yeo resign, accept suspensions
KEARNS — The two embattled speedskating coaches accused of physically and emotionally abusing U.S. athletes resigned their positions Thursday afternoon.
Former head coach Jae Su Chun, who's been on leave for nearly a month, and assistant Jun Hyung Yeo, who took over the national program when Chun was placed on leave, also accepted suspensions from U.S. Speedskating until February 2014.
U.S. Speedskating spokeswoman Tamara Castellano said she could not say why the two men had been suspended, but said the resignations and suspensions bring an end to any disciplinary investigations by U.S. Speedskating into the accusations against Chun and Yeo.
The suspensions mean that while the two men can coach elite athletes privately, they cannot be credentialed for any U.S. Speedskating event or through any U.S. athlete, even independent of the team.
An independent investigation handled by the law firm of White and Case found no evidence to support a "pattern" of physical or emotional abuse against Chun or Yeo. Additionally, the two-month investigation also couldn't conclusively say whether Chun ordered Olympic bronze medalist Simon Cho to tamper with the skates of a Canadian athlete.
The 20-year-old Cho admitted to using a device to bend the blade of Canadian skater Olivier Jean during the 2011 World Championships in Poland. But he said in a news conference last week that he did so only because Chun repeatedly told him to do so and the coach promised he'd take full responsibility if it were found out.
"It was the biggest mistake of my life and one that I regret with all of my heart," said Cho, who still remains under investigation by U.S. Speedskating for the incident. Cho said Chun asked him three separate times, and after the first time, he asked him in Korean, which changed the nature of the request.
"When he spoke in Korean, I knew he was serious," said Cho, who, like Chun and Yeo, is also Korean. "Because at this point, not only was he coming to me as my coach, but as my Korean elder, and when an elder makes a request, it's very difficult to deny."
Castellano said a disciplinary investigation into Cho's actions is ongoing and a hearing will likely be held in the next week.
U.S. Speedskating appointed interim coaches Monday, including Stephen Gough, who competed in the 1994 Olympics for Canada, and Pat Wendland, a 30-year veteran coach who has worked with athletes like Apolo Anton Ohno. The interim coaches will travel with the U.S. team to its first world cup competition in seven days.
The 2012 World Cup season begins Oct. 19 in Calgary, Canada. All the athletes who qualified for the U.S. Speedskating fall world cup team have accepted their spots, including the athletes involved in the grievance against the coaches.
Those athletes on the team are: J.R. Celski, Federal Way, Wash.; Chris Creveling, Kintnersville, Pa.; Kyle Carr, Peach Tree City, Ga.; Jeff Simon, Las Vegas; Travis Jayner, Midland, Minn.; John Henry Krueger, Pittsburgh; Jessica Smith, Melvindale, Minn.; Sarah Chen, San Marino, Calif.; Lana Gehring, Northbrook, Ill.; Emily Scott, Springfield, Mo.; Alyson Dudek, Hales Corners, Wis.; Tamara Fredrick, Park Ridge, Ill.
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