Figure Skating Champion Dies by Suicide after Suspension

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(— January 20, 2019) — A two-time U.S. pairs skating champion John Coughlin, who was suspended Thursday evening by the U.S. Center for SafeSport and U.S. Figure Skating, died Friday by suicide Kansas City police confirmed.

Coughlin, 33, was a two time U.S. Figure Skating Champion. After his competing days were over Coughlin worked as coach and commentator & analyst at figure skating competitions. As Chair of the ISU Athletes Commission and member of the ISU Single & Pair Skating Technical Committee, Coughlin was a rising star within both USFS and the International Skating Union (ISU), the USA Today reports.

Only a week before the upcoming national figure skating championships in Detroit, the U.S. Center for SafeSport suspended Coughlin from any skating events under allegations of sexual abuse.

Coughlin told USA Today on January 7th that the allegations against him were “unfounded.” Yet the committee brought a full suspension down on the famous pro-skater. In the meantime Coughlin resigned as U.S. brand manager for John Wilson Blades, a major skating blade company.

“While I wish I could speak freely about the unfounded allegations levied against me, the SafeSport rules prevent me from doing so since the case remains pending,” he wrote in an email to USA TODAY. “I note only that the SafeSport notice of allegation itself stated that an allegation in no way constitutes a finding by SafeSport or that there is any merit to the allegation.”

After SafeSport elevated Thursday Coughlin’s disciplinary record to “Interim Suspension,” the USFS immediately followed with their own measures prohibiting him from participating “in any capacity, in any activity or competition” authorized or organized by USFS or the U.S. Olympic Committee.

The next morning, Coughlin was found dead by suicide.

“My wonderful, strong, amazingly compassionate brother John Coughlin took his own life earlier today,” Angela Laune, Coughlin’s sister, wrote in a Facebook post on Friday night.

The ISU issued a statement Saturday, grieving for the ex-chairman expressing shock and disbelief.  “In the name of the ISU family, we herewith want to share our heartfelt condolences and kindest thoughts with John’s family and friends in this time of sorrow,” the statement reads.

The USFS also offered condolences in a statement on Twitter but, however, sustained for further comment on the matter.  

The U.S. Center for SafeSport U.S. SafeSport was founded in 2017 to investigate abuse in sport. The body does not provide details of the nature of any allegations until a case is resolved, however, it has a mandate to cancel all privileges of a sportsperson that is on probation for misconduct or abuse allegations.