Ex-U.S. figure Skating Champion John Coughlin Commits Suicide

John Coughlin
AP Photo/Francois Mori

Jan. 19 (UPI) — John Coughlin, a U.S. pairs figure skating champion in 2011 and 2012, died Friday from suicide one day after he was suspended from the sport, his sister said. He was 33.

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

U.S. Figure Skating confirmed his death Saturday, posting on Twitter: “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.”

The 2019 U.S. Figure Skating Championships began Saturday in Detroit.

On Thursday, the U.S. Olympic Committee’s SafeSport suspended him from U.S. figure skating in “any activity or competition” amid a pending undisclosed grievance. That meant he was prevented from serving as a commentator, including as scheduled in the national competition this weekend.

The center has oversight of sexual misconduct and other abuse allegations reported to national governing bodies. On Dec. 17, his eligibility to participate in his sport was restricted by SafeSport and on Jan. 8 Coughlin resigned as U.S. brand manager for John Wilson Blades, a major skate blade company.

On Jan. 7, Coughlin told USA Today the allegations against him were “unfounded.”

“As Americans, it’s our civil right to be innocent until proven guilty!” his former coach, Dalilah Sappenfield, wrote on Facebook. “John NEVER got to exercise that right before losing everything, including his life.”

Sappenfield also wrote: “My heart aches incredibly to know John took his life yesterday. His family, the skating community, and I lost a very special man who lived his life with integrity and kindness.”

Officers were dispatched at 4:54 p.m. Friday in Kansas City, Mo., police Sgt. Jake Becchina told USA Today. The address was listed as Coughlin’s former residence and the house where his father lives, according to public records.

Coughlin was a U.S. pairs champion and represented the United States at the world championships, teaming with Caitlin Yankowskas in 2011 and with Caydee Denney the next year.

Denney and Coughlin did not receive one of the two U.S. spots in the pairs’ event at the 2014 Winter Olympics. In the 2014 World Championships, they withdrew due to Denney’s right ankle injury, sustained in practice.

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