A change in the date of the arbitration hearing on charges of physical and verbal abuse by U.S. short track national racing program coaches means US Speedskating is looking for ways to create a harmonious atmosphere at the first two World Cups on the season.
In a statement issued Wednesday morning, the federation said it is seeking "a fair and equitable solution to allow for all the athletes who qualified for the team last weekend to compete."
The hearing has been moved from Monday to Nov. 1. The first
The hearing would not take place at all should an ongoing investigation of the allegations lead the federation to dismiss head coach Jae Su Chun, who is currently suspended, and his assistant, Jun Hyung Yeo, currently the interim head coach.
Five of the 10 skaters who made the World Cup team at last week's trials are signatories to the request for arbitration. A sixth skater signed a complaint against the coaches filed through the U.S. Olympic Committee's grievance system.
Three World Cup team members endorsed a statement of support for Chun. The 10th team member has not taken any public stand.
USS would not offer details on what the World Cup solution might be. Edward Williams, attorney for the complainants, declined comment.
Before the hearing date was changed, US Speedskating told the athletes it would allow them to wait for the outcome of the investigative and arbitration proceedings before making a final decision on whether to join the World Cup team.
In Wednesday's statement, the federation said it expects the investigation report from New York-based law firm White & Case by early next week "at the latest."
"Should the findings of the investigation warrant, US Speedskating will take immediate action to rectify any issues that may be uncovered in advance of the scheduled arbitration," the statement said.
US Speedskating suspended Chun Sept. 16 after the coach sent a letter to media outlets in which Chun admitted to having pushed an athlete but said he had "not abused athletes in any way."
Chun's attorney, Russell Fericks, said Tuesday that testimony at the hearing would give a different picture of the situation than the one created by the allegations against the coach.
"It should be well known the allegations of physical abuse and verbal abuse are denied," Fericks said by telephone. "There are significant conflicting points of view and conflicting evidence about these things."
Asked if this could come down to a "he said, she said" situation, Fericks said, "There is a certain inevitability that people have different perspectives about circumstances."
The most explosive allegation does not involve abuse. It is a charge that U.S. skater Simon Cho, a 2011 world champion and 2010 Olympic bronze medalist, followed Chun's directive to tamper with the skates of a Canadian at the 2011 World Team Championships.
The skates belonged to Olivier Jean, who said after the allegation became public last week he had always suspected sabotage was behind the broken skate blade that caused him to drop out in the relay. That cost bronze medalist Canada a shot at the gold or silver.
Cho, who did not make the World Cup team, told reporters Sunday in Salt Lake City he expected to be penalized as a result of the tampering allegation, either with a suspension or a ban.
The skaters who made the allegations have left the national team to train with a group called FAST.
One, Jeff Simon, has said he would decline a World Cup spot if the current coaches remained in place.
Another complainant, 2010 Olympic bronze medalist
The three others who are part of the arbitration demand – Travis Jayner, Kyle Carr and Alyson Dudek - either declined to address the issue or said they would wait to decide. (Emily Scott was a signatory to the the original complaint but not the arbitration.)
Lana Gehring, Jessica Smith and Chris Creveling signed the etter of support for Chun. The 10th team member, Sarah Chen, has not chosen sides publicly but is part of the national racing program.