2012/09/17 10:16 KST
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S. Korean coach of U.S. short track team denies abusive behavior

SEOUL, Sept. 17 (Yonhap) -- Chun Jae-su, the South Korean-born head coach of the U.S. short track speed skating team, has denied charges of abuse brought by his current and former athletes.

   In a statement released through his spokesman, Cho Hyon-myong, on Monday, Korean time, Chun said he is innocent.

   "I have not abused athletes in any way and am confident I will be found innocent at the outcome of the investigation," the statement read.

   The statement was issued a day after 19 skaters, including five Olympic medalists, filed a grievance against U.S. Speedskating over Chun's alleged abuse and the national federation's failure to stop his behavior.

   The list of skaters includes 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics bronze medalists Allison Baver, J.R. Celski, Alyson Dudek, Travis Jayner and Jordan Malone, according to reports. They alleged that Chun slammed a skater against a wall before hitting him, threw bottles and chairs in tantrums, and told female skaters that they were "fat" and "disgusting."

   The skaters also accused Chun's two assistants, Yeo Jun-hyung and Jimmy Yang, of discriminating against women, engaging in inappropriate sexual conduct and providing alcohol to minors.

   The U.S. Speedskating said it is investigating these allegations and said Chun has been placed on "administrative leave" until the investigation is finished.

   Chun, 42, coached South Korean and Canadian national teams before taking over the U.S. team in 2007. Under Chun's tutelage, the U.S. won two silver and four bronze medals in Vancouver, breaking the national record for the most short track medals at a single Winter Games by two.

   With more than a dozen skaters accusing Chun of abusive behavior, the father of one active skater claimed the coach was indeed innocent.

   In an e-mail to Yonhap News Agency, Jay Cho, father of the Vancouver relay bronze medalist Simon, said some athletes were taking the matters "personally."

   "Originally, they wanted to complain about the U.S. Speedskating's administrative problems," said the senior Cho, whose son was born in Seoul and was the youngest member of the U.S. team in Vancouver at 18. "But a few of them had personal issues with the coach and the situation degenerated into a platform for them to express their animosity toward the Korean coach. I believe charges of sexual harassment against female skaters are clearly not true."

   jeeho@yna.co.kr
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