A U.S. arbitrator late Monday night issued a scathing decision against a former area speedskating coach and Olympic champion, banning him from the U.S. coaching ranks for a host of violations, including “maltreatment, mistreatment, abusive, intimidating, coercive” and “tremendously inappropriate” behavior against youth skaters.
The arbitrator ruled that Kim Dong-Sung, a South Korean Olympic champion who coached youth skaters at three clubs in Maryland and Virginia, should be expelled from U.S. Speedskating for at least 18 separate violations of the organization’s code of conduct.
Seven athletes formerly coached by Kim and four parents of athletes provided American Arbitration Association arbitrator Jeffrey G. Benz with testimony that was cited anonymously in Benz’s 75-page decision to protect their identities.
Several witnesses testified that Kim, who won an Olympic gold medal for South Korea in 1998, hit skaters on the buttocks with hockey sticks and skate blades, and that he hit them on the head, hands and other body parts with other implements, and kicked them.
Kim, who appeared only on the first day of the three-day hearing in April in Washington, denied the charges. His attorney, Barry Coburn, declined to comment Tuesday.
“U.S. Speedskating is pleased with the result, but it’s just such a sad situation that we can’t be happy about the whole matter,” said Steve Smith, the attorney for U.S. Speedskating.
The organization ask the arbitrator to ban Kim for life from the sport, but the arbitrator ruled Kim could apply for resinstatement after six years if he showed he completed an anger-management course, had not had further problems with any sport organization and did not incur a criminal record.
U.S. Speedskating opened an investigation after allegations of physical abuse raised against Kim in February 2011. The charges were first reported in The Post.
After his retirement from speedskating, Kim moved to the Virginia area and coached at the now-defunct Wheaton Speedskating Club, the Potomac Speedskating Club and DS Speedskating.
He moved back to South Korea late last year after U.S. Speedskating sought to suspend him.
The arbitrator cited claims made by each of the 11 witnesses who testified against Kim, including a skater who said “he saw Mr. Kim grab the other skater who could not keep up with a workout around his neck and started punching him in his ribs and stomach . . . and while the other skater was on the floor Mr. Kim started hitting him hard repeatedly with a hockey stick.”
Another skater, the arbitrator wrote, said “Mr. Kim would, ‘many times,’ order skaters to go into the locker room, close the door, put their hands on the benches, and hi[t] them in the butts with leather blade guards often leaving her with red marks on her butt and back.”
Benz wrote that Kim was “fortunate that no parent or skater has attempted to assert civil claims against Mr. Kim for the physical abuse he waged on the skaters under his coach and that he escaped criminal liability in Maryland” and that “anyone else in a position of fact-finding or decision-making authority in this case, would have to be wearing blinders to not find violations of the US Speedskating Code of Conduct on these facts.”