Jae Su Chun, the U.S. short-track speedskating coach whom roughly half the national team accused of physical and emotional abuse, has resigned and been suspended through the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Chun’s top assistant, Jun Hyung Yeo, accepted identical terms in a deal brokered with U.S. Speedskating just eight days before the fall World Cup season begins, clearing the way for all 12 American skaters who qualified to take part. Some among them had refused to compete if Chun were reinstated as their coach.
But the fate of the youngest member of the 2010 U.S Olympic short-track team, bronze-medalist Simon Cho, the principal figure in the most explosive allegation against Chun, remains uncertain.
Cho, a South Korean native who was reared in Laurel, confessed last month to sabotaging the skate of a Canadian rival during the sport’s 2011 world team championships in Warsaw. Cho said he did so upon orders from Chun, whom he said directed him three times to “mess up” the skate of a Canadian athlete out of vengeance. According to Cho, Chun blamed the Canadian squad for costing the Americans a spot on the medal stand by manipulating a particular heat in favor of a Japanese skater.
Cho, who was 19 at the time, has expressed profound remorse and apologized to Canadian skater Olivier Jean, who fell as a result of his damage to his skate blade. Chun has denied Cho’s account through his attorney but was placed on administrative leave in September amid an investigation into the reports of abuse and suspended indefinitely after acknowledging that he knew of the skate-tampering incident but failed to report it.
U.S. Speedskating disciplinary proceedings against Cho are underway, and a hearing before the sport’s appeals commission will be held soon, a spokesperson said.
Ed Williams, a lawyer for the 12 U.S. skaters who leveled the claims of abuse (including an account of the skate-tampering episode among their filings), said in a telephone interview that his clients were pleased by Chun’s resignation and intended to drop arbitration proceedings against him but would pursue arbitration against U.S. Speedskating to recoup travel costs and legal fees associated with their grievances.