Speedskater charges coach ordered tampering

2010 Olympic bronze medalist Simon Cho later told a teammate in a written message, 'It is my darkest secret and I regret it'

A U.S. speedskater allegedly followed his coach's order to tamper with the skates of a Canadian rival at the 2011 World Short Track Team Speedskating Championships in Warsaw, according to a request for arbitration filed Tuesday.

That explosive charge is contained in the request on behalf of 13 U.S. short track skaters seeking to have the coach who allegedly asked for the sabotage, Jae Su Chun, dismissed from his role as head coach of the national team.

Chun has not responded to these allegations.

According to the arbitration filing, the U.S. skater, 2010 Olympic bronze medalist Simon Cho, later told a teammate in a written message, "It is my darkest secret and I regret it."

Cho, 21, who lives in Salt Lake City, has acknowledged a Tribune request for comment but had so far not provided any comment.

U.S. Speedskating suspended Chun on Sunday, pending the results of an investigation by the New York-based law firm White & Case into charges of abuse against the coach filed last week by more than a dozen skaters.

"Jae Su is content to let the investigation run its course," said Hyonmyong Cho, a friend of the coach, when asked for comment Wednesday on the new allegations. Hyonmyong Cho had issued a statement on the coach's behalf Sunday in which Chun denied all allegations of abuse.

A copy of the arbitration demand document obtained by the Tribune uses an incorrect name for the Canadian athlete whose skates allegedly were tampered with.

The arbitration document alleges Chun asked the U.S. skater to tamper with the skates of a Canadian skater identified throughout as "Oliver Jean Le Patineur." 

A skater whose full name is Olivier Jean competed for Canada at the 2011 worlds.  ("Le Patineur" means "the skater" in French.)

The tampering meant the Canadian was "unable to effectively skate," according to the arbitration filing.

A Speed Skating Canada news release from March 20, 2011, summarizing the world meet noted Jean had skate problems immediately before the final event, the 5,000-meter relay. Jean was unable to compete, costing the Canadian men a shot at gold or silver medals.

"... At the start of the race, something was wrong with Olivier Jean's blades, and there was no time to fix it," the release said. "With only three skaters racing the relay, they had to settle for fourth (last) place."

Second in the "A" group overall standings going into the relay, Canada wound up with the bronze medal. The U.S. men won the "B" group for fifth place.

"At the moment I’m afraid we will not discussing this issue, and it’s not appropriate that we do as it is a legal matter before the courts," Speed Skating Canada spokesman Phil Legault said in an email Thursday.

According to the arbitration document:

•Four months after the world meet, Cho told a fellow U.S. short track skater, "I know I have done (screwed) up things. I wish I could take them back. But I can't. ... And I'm preparing myself for the consequences to come."

•Two days earlier, Cho had said to a fellow skater, "Everyone knew Jae Su was the mastermind behind the situation at the World Teams."

•On the plane trip home from the world meet, Cho admitted to a fellow U.S. skater he had tampered with the blades.

"These are very serious allegations that need to be fully investigated before their accuracy can be known," U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky said Wednesday in an email.

"It is our understanding that U.S. Speedskating is doing just that through the investigation being undertaken by White & Case. Until that investigation is complete we do not believe it appropriate to comment any further."

phersh@tribune.com

Twitter @olyphil

CHICAGO

More

Five on Five