Fourteen speedskaters have filed a complaint with the U.S. Olympic Committee against U.S. short track head coach Jae Su Chun, citing what their attorney, Edward Williams, called "unchecked abuse" in a letter to U.S. Olympic Committee chief executive Scott Blackmun.
Those athletes who are national team members have effectively boycotted U.S. Speedskating rather than continue to have any contact with Chun and two of his assistants, Jun Hyung Yeo and Jimmy Jang.
"There are obviously serious allegations, and we are working closely with speedskating to look into this and fully understand the issues in this case," USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said Friday.
The complaint, one of three actions the athletes have taken, asks that all three coaches be barred from coaching or traveling with the 2012-13
The athletes have indicated they do not want to be part of the World Cup team or any other U.S. teams as long as Chun, Yeo and Jang remain the coaches.
The Sept. 11 letter to Blackmun followed the Aug. 30 filing of a much wider-ranging grievance against U.S. Speedskating to which 19 athletes were signatories.
The athletes also filed Thursday a code of conduct complaint against Chun with U.S. Speedskating. Friday, skater Levi Kirpatrick filed a code of conduct complaint against USS chief executive Mark Greenwald, alleging neglect of duty and intimidation.
The Tribune has obtained copies of all the filings. (To read them, see "Related Items." Pages with athletes' phone numbers and emails have been omitted.)
Among the athletes who are signatories to all three are five U.S. medalists from the
Notably absent from the list of complainants are Katherine Reutter of Champaign and Lana Gehring of Glenview, the top two U.S. women's speedskaters over the past four years. Reutter is one of the athlete representatives to the federation's board of directors.
None of the coaches involved could be reached for comment. Williams declined comment other than to acknowledge the actions he has taken on behalf of the athletes.
Messages left with Reutter and Gehring were not immediately returned.
The U.S. Speedskating board meets Saturday in Salt Lake City.
"U.S. Speedskating takes this grievance very seriously and we intend to investigate each and every allegation," said Tamara Castellano, the federation's communications and marketing director, in a statement.
"U.S. Speedskating is working with an independent law firm to fully investigate this matter and we will respect their findings and recommendations. We will take the appropriate action to remedy any issues that are uncovered once the process is complete."
Among the 22 allegations against Chun in the code of conduct complaint are:
He slammed an athlete against a wall and repeatedly hit him; told U.S. team members to be "obnoxious" to Canadian rivals at the 2011 World Team Championships; threw objects, including bottles and chairs, at skaters; repeatedly screamed insults at skaters; and repeatedly told female skaters they were "fat" and "disgusting."
In his letter to Blackmun, Williams cited the need for urgent action rather than waiting for the U.S. Speedskating investigation because World Cup teams will be selected at the U.S. Single Distance Championships Sept. 27-30.
"My clients (the athletes) are being faced with the choice of again skating under and for a known abusive coach or ending their racing career," Williams wrote.
Those athletes already have opted out of the USS national team program, meaning they have been paying for their own ice time and coaching at the Utah Olympic Oval.
Chun, a native of South Korea, had been a coach of that country's national team until just before the 2006 Olympics. He worked briefly with the Canadian team before being hired by U.S. Speedskating in 2007.
Chun received a four-year contract extension after U.S. short track skaters won six medals at the 2010 Olympics.
The 50-page grievance document says the federation did nothing to protect its athletes from the coaching abuse and calls into question the federation's entire management structure, alleging that a group of "all-powerful" and "self-perpetuating" insiders run the federation instead of the board or the paid management staff.