A former pairs champion took his own life Friday, just one day after he was suspended by U.S. Figure Skating.
John Coughlin’s sister, Angela Laune, wrote in a Facebook post that her brother took his own life.
“My wonderful, strong, amazingly compassionate brother John Coughlin took his own life earlier today. I have no words. I love you John. Always Always Brother Bear,” she wrote.
U.S. Figure Skating released a statement on Twitter regarding Coughlin’s death.
“We are stunned at the news of the death of two-time U.S. pairs champion John Coughlin. Our heartfelt and deepest sympathies are with his father Mike, sister Angela and the rest of his family. Out of respect to the family, we will have no further comment until a later time,” U.S. Figure Skating tweeted.
Coughlin, 33, of Kansas City, won his titles in 2011 and 2012. He won with his partner Caitlin Yankowskas in 2011 and then with Caydee Denney in 2012. He retired from competitive figure skating, the Kansas City Star reported. He also coached and was a commentator for skating competitions. The Kansas City Star reported he was integral with bringing the U.S. Figure Skating Championships to his home city in 2017.
Coughlin was suspended Thursday by U.S. Figure Skating and U.S. Center for SafeSport. USA Today reported a “matter concerning him” was presented to SafeSport. The details were not immediately disclosed.
In December, SafeSport restricted his participation in the sport before the “interim suspension” was announced. He was temporarily suspended from “participating in any capacity, in any activity or competition authorized or organized by USFS or the U.S. Olympic Committee,” USA Today reported.
The U.S. Center for SafeSport describes itself as “an independent nonprofit committed to ending all forms of abuse in sport.”
“This includes bullying, harassment, hazing, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual misconduct and abuse,” the website states.
Coughlin told USA Today in an email on Jan. 7 that the allegations were “unfounded.”
“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 the 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.”
Coughlin’s former coach, Dalilah Sappenfield, mourned the skater’s death in a post on Facebook.
“My heart aches incredibly to know John took his own life yesterday. His family, the skating community and I lost a very special man who lived his life with integrity and kindness,”
Two-time Olympian Johnny Weir tweeted his condolences.
“John Coughlin was a person who made things fun. He was a person who was talented, had an incredible laugh & would go out of his way to cheer someone up. His kindness is something I’ll never forget and his light will be missed. My prayers are with his family & friends,” Weir wrote.
Coughlin’s death comes before the U.S. Figure Skating Championships are slated to take place in Detroit.
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