Olympian suspended 2 years for skate tampering
KEARNS, Utah — Olympic short track medalist Simon Cho received a two-year suspension from the International Skating Union on Sunday after admitting he tampered with the skates of a Canadian rival.
U.S. Speedskating announced the suspension, which runs through Oct. 4, 2014. That means Cho would not be eligible to compete for the American short track team at the Sochi Olympics.
Cho confessed on Oct. 5, 2012, that he sabotaged the skates of Canada’s Olivier Jean during the 2011 World Team Championship but claimed he did it at the direction of former short track national coach Jae Su Chun.
Chun has always denied that he had any role in the tampering. But the ISU suspended him for two years through Aug. 25, 2015, saying he also violated the code of ethics.
U.S. Speedskating issued a statement saying it “respects the findings of the ISU” and will refer the matter to its disciplinary panel for a final decision. The ruling came on the same day the U.S. short track team was picked for the upcoming World Cup season, an important step for a program that has been wracked by organizational infighting and allegations that coaches were abusive.
Cho did not take part in the selection meet.
“As an organization, we are focused on supporting our athletes as they begin the season and work toward competing on the international stage the 2014 Olympic Winter Games,” U.S. Speedskating said in its statement.
After the retirement of Apolo Anton Ohno, Cho appeared to be one of the rising stars in the U.S. program. He won a relay bronze medal at the Vancouver Games and an individual world championship in 2011
Then came what he called the “biggest mistake of my life.” Cho claimed the tampering occurred because Chun was angry at the Canadians and convinced they had aided another team to eliminate the Americans.
Cho said he was pressured by the coach to alter Jean’s skate, using a blade bender normally used to ensure a skater’s blade follows the proper radius in short track.
“I always knew it was wrong that day,” Cho said last October. “I hope that I can make up for my mistake and continue to skate in the future.”