Cho, 20, who trained at Arlington’s Potomac Skating Club, called Jean to apologize Thursday night and expects to be disciplined for his actions by U.S. Speedskating.
“I’ve done him a horrible wrong,” Cho said during a conference call with the two newspapers. “I just want to apologize to Speedskating Canada, the Canadian team and most of all Olivier Jean. I have great respect for Olivier Jean as a person and an athlete.”
Chun’s lawyer, Russell Fericks, said in a telephone interview Thursday that the coach insists he told no athlete to damage a Canadian’s skate.
“It’s very disappointing, for whatever reason, that Simon Cho feels compelled to persist in this canard that his coach instructed him to tamper with another skater’s equipment,” Fericks said. “Simon Cho is a young and impressionable man, and he is under a lot of pressure.”
A reigning world champion, Cho won bronze in the 5,000-meter relay at the 2010 Olympics. But 16 months from the 2014 Games, he faces punishment that could range from a suspension to a lifetime ban from competition.
Cho said he provided a full, honest account of his actions during an hour-long interview Sept. 19 with the law firm White & Case, which has been retained by U.S. Speedskating to investigate the allegations of abuse against Chun, the U.S. national coach since 2007.
The skate-tampering, and Chun’s alleged role in it, is the most explosive episode detailed in a raft of documents filed by U.S. speedskaters over the past five weeks in three separate initiatives to oust Chun and his assistants.
U.S. Speedskating is expected to decide whether to reinstate Chun, and what disciplinary action to take against Cho, after the law firm submits its findings. That could come Friday, when U.S. Speedskating holds a news conference at 3 p.m. Cho has scheduled his own news conference at noon to air his version of events.
Cho’s confession is a rare admission of sabotage by a world-class Olympian. The peculiar twist is that it resulted in no competitive advantage for Cho or the U.S. men’s team. Whether on Chun’s orders or not, it occurred after the U.S. men had been eliminated from the 2011 world championships in Warsaw. The sole purpose, Cho believes, was vengeance toward Canada on the part of Chun, who felt the Canadians had manipulated the outcome by allowing a Japanese skater to beat one of its own in a preliminary heat and, in turn, bump the U.S. from medal contention.