Skater Olivier Jean and Canadian team officials were certain something was done to his skate at the 2011 World Short-track Championships in Warsaw, Poland. A bent blade forced him to withdraw and Canada skated a man down and finished last.
Jean and the Canadians were unable to prove how the blade became bent but recently filed a grievance against the U.S. team, believing them the culprits. As a result, U.S. skater Simon Cho came forward Friday and admitted to the deed in a written statement and at a press conference.
Canada and the U.S. shared a dressing room at that championships and it was not hard for Cho to access the skates. Cho said he did not target Jean, but just grabbed a skate randomly and bent it with a implement used to make certain blades comply with radius requirements. Cho said he takes responsibility for his actions but at the same time said he was badgered into it by one of the U.S. skating team's coaches, Jae Su Chun.
In a written statement issued Friday Cho said he was "deeply embarrassed and sad to confirm certain allegations that have been made in the arbitration demand brought by a group of my fellow speedskaters against U.S. Speedskating and the coaches." At the press conference in Salt Lake City, where the Americans trains, Cho, like the coach from South Korea, said the third time Chun told him to sabotage a Canadian's skate, he did so in Korean. "When he spoke in Korean, I knew he was serious. The repetitiveness and aggressiveness of how he came at me was very intimidating. I knew he wasn't going to take no for an answer."
Jae Su Chun: multiple allegations
Cho said he deeply regrets listening to his coach and that he knows he should have continued to say no despite being badgered; he added that it was the biggest mistake of his life. Before going public with his confession, Cho contacted Jean by Facebook and subsequently spoke to him on the phone to apologize. Jean, who said he's always gotten along with Cho, accepted the apology.
Cho said that fellow American speedskater Jeff Simon was present when Chun first told him to bend the blade. U.S. Speedskating said they are looking into the matter. There have been other allegations of misconduct directed against Jae Su Chun, including shoving a U.S. speedskater and belittling skaters.
Cho, who made his confession two days prior to his 22nd birthday, said he will never skate for Chun again.