John Coughlin death: US figure skating champion takes his own life a day after suspension from sport

Two-time pairs national champion under restriction by US SafeSport which investigates sexual misconduct and other forms of abuse

Jacob Bogage
Sunday 20 January 2019 12:14
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John Coughlin and Caydee Denney perform at 2012 Four Continents Pairs

A prominent former figure skater, coach and television announcer has reportedly taken his own life a day after an anti-abuse organisation suspended him from the sport.

The US Centre for SafeSport placed an interim restriction on John Coughlin, a two-time US pairs national champion, on 7 January, then upgraded the restriction to a suspension on Thursday.

On Friday, Mr Coughlin was found dead by Kansas City police, who confirmed his death as a suicide, according to USA Today. He was 33 years old.

“My wonderful, strong, amazingly compassionate brother John Coughlin took his own life earlier today. I have no words,” his sister, Angela Laune, wrote on Facebook. “I love you John.”

SafeSport does not disclose allegations during active investigations.

“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,” Mr Coughlin wrote in an email to USA Today on 7 January.

“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.”

Mr Coughlin won pairs national championships in 2011 and 2012 skating respectively with Caitlin Yankowskas and Caydee Denney. He retired from professional skating and took up coaching and broadcasting in 2014.

Before his death, Mr Coughlin was influential as an administrator in national figure skating, serving as chair of the International Skating Union’s athletes commission and a member of the single and pair skating technical committee.

He was instrumental, according to the Kansas City Star, in bringing the US Figure Skating Championships to the city, his hometown, in 2017.

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“The John I knew was a big loving teddy bear with an infectious laugh,” Dalilah Sappenfield, Mr Coughlin’s coach, wrote on Facebook.

“It was so very difficult for him and all those who loved him to see his name and reputation being dragged through the mud these past few weeks, without any due process.

“We spoke every day... just numb and shocked about how things were being misconstrued on social media.

“It was so very sad and tragic for me to see his life turned upside down in a matter of weeks, to the point where he felt alone, lost, and desperate that he no longer had it in him to fight.”

For confidential support in the UK, contact the Samaritans at 116 123

In the US, contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

Washington Post

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