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Fri Oct 8, 2021, 09:53 AM

Figure skater Tarah Kayne details abuse allegations against sanctioned Olympic coach

The U.S. Center for SafeSport has temporarily barred U.S. Olympic pairs figure skating coach Dalilah Sappenfield from having any contact with a dozen figure skaters and from coaching other athletes without another adult present to supervise while it continues an investigation into allegations of misconduct.

Sappenfield, winner of the 2008 Professional Skaters Association/U.S. Figure Skating coach of the year award, coached three-time national champions Alexa and Chris Knierim at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, where they finished 15th in the pairs competition and won a team bronze medal.

She was the coach and good friend of John Coughlin, the two-time national pairs champion who died by suicide at 33 on Jan. 18, 2019, one day after he received an interim suspension from SafeSport due to three allegations of sexual abuse.

One of the skaters whom Sappenfield, 50, is prohibited from contacting, 2016 U.S. pairs champion Tarah Kayne, told USA TODAY Sports about several allegations she reported to a SafeSport investigator, including one in which the coach’s constant verbal abuse, filled with sexual comments, led her to cut her left wrist with a razor blade in the summer of 2019 in her dorm room at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.


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