The short-track speedskating coach accused of abusing athletes within U.S. Speedskating has denied the charges brought in three complaints filed recently with the federation and the U.S. Olympic Committee.
“I have not abused the athletes in any way,” coach Jae Su Chun said in a statement released Sunday by a spokesman.
Hours later, U.S. Speedskating announced that Chun has been placed on administrative leave until an investigation into the allegations is complete. Attorneys from the international law firm White & Case are conducting the investigation, working for free.
It’s unclear who will coach the skaters as they prepare for qualifying races later this month for the upcoming World Cup season — in their complaints, the skaters said they have been working with private coaches to avoid Chun and his alleged abuse — or how long the investigation will take.
A spokeswoman for the federation said those issues will be addressed in a conference call with the news media on Monday.
Fourteen active short-track speedskaters have accused Chun of verbal, physical and psychological abuse, and sought in their complaints to have him and two assistant coaches banned from coaching or traveling with the U.S. team during the upcoming World Cup season.
But Chun stridently denied the accusations on Sunday, as well as charges of inappropriate sexual behavior and providing alcohol to underage skaters.
Chun noted that while the allegations of inappropriate behavior were listed with no further detail in a primary complaint about him, they were absent from a more detailed “code of conduct” complaint filed with U.S. Speedskating.
“This simply has not happened,” Chun said.
The coach said the same is true of the alcohol charges, adding that he is “adamantly against drinking” and that his first action when he became coach in 2007 was to institute a no-alcohol policy that “led to a tremendous amount of unpleasantness with several members of the team at the time.”
One of the other serious charges in the complaints was that Chun slammed a skater against a wall and hit him repeatedly for “disrespecting” the coach.
Chun acknowledged he had a disagreement with the skater and pushed him, but said he later apologized and the two “resolved the conflict amicably and [the skater] certainly was not injured,” winning several medals at the world championships the next day.
The coach also said that the unnamed skater in the dispute is not among those who filed the complaints. Chun said that after the complaints were filed, the skater denied the coach had hit him and said the Chun “didn’t cause me any physical harm whatsoever.”
Chun said he is “confident I will be found innocent at the outcome of the investigation.”