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Former US figure skater John Coughlin dies after sport suspension

January 21, 2019

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John Coughlin a former two-time US pairs figure skating champion has taken his life after being suspended from the sport following investigation claims of sexual misconduct.

The 33 year-old was facing three reports of sexual misconduct  against him, two of them involving minors. The reports were filed with the U.S. Center for SafeSport within the past few weeks and resulted in its decision to elevate Coughlin’s disciplinary record to an interim suspension Thursday night.

Coughlin, retired from competitive skating in 2015, but remained heavily involved in the sport as a coach and TV announcer. Coughlin had been placed under restricted eligibility by the US Centre for SafeSport - an organisation that was set up in 2017 with the aim to end all forms of abuse in sport. It has exclusive jurisdiction over allegations of sexual misconduct but also looks into other forms of abuse.

On Friday, a day after the suspension, Mr Coughlin was found dead by Kansas City police, who confirmed his death as a suicide. Coughlin’s coach, Dalilah Sappenfield, said the unsubstantiated allegations drove him to take his own life.

A spokesperson from SafeSport said that it is ‘unlikely’ the investigation will continue. “We are not a punitive body. When someone is suspended, it is to keep individuals safe. It’s all about the safety of the reporting party. In this instance, sadly, the safety issue isn’t there now.”

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