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John Coughlin, champion US figure skater, dies after sport suspension

Posted at 11:30 AM, Jan 19, 2019

John Coughlin, a champion American figure skater recently suspended from his sport, died Friday, his sister and figure skating groups and personalities said.

"My wonderful strong, amazingly compassionate brother John Coughlin took his own life earlier today. I have no words. I love you John..." his sister, Angela Laune, said late Friday in a Facebook post.

A day before his death, Coughlin, 33, was temporarily suspended from US figure skating by the US Center for SafeSport amid a pending grievance, US Figure Skating officials said without disclosing details of the matter. The center is a US Olympic Committee agency with oversight of sexual misconduct and other abuse allegations reported to national governing bodies.

Coughlin's death coincided with the start of the 2019 US Figure Skating Championships in Detroit.

"We are stunned at the news of the death of two-time US pairs champion John Coughlin," US Figure Skating said Saturday in a statement. "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."

A US national pairs champion in 2011 and 2012, Coughlin represented the United States at the world championships during those years. He was from Kansas City, Missouri, CNN affiliate WDAF reported.

The skating world mourns

His former coach, Dalilah Sappenfield, wrote on Facebook: "Yesterday I received the most numbing, devastating, and heartbreaking call!... 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."

The International Skating Union said it is "shocked and saddened by the unexpected passing of John Coughlin, Chair of the ISU Athletes Commission and member of the ISU Single & Pair Skating Technical Committee. In the name of the ISU family, we herewith want to share our heartfelt condolences and kindest thoughts with John's family and friends in this time of sorrow."

Two-time Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir reacted on Twitter , saying, "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."

In a statement, two-time Olympian and World Pair Champion Randy Gardner said, "This is tragic any way you look at it. With the allegations still unknown, we have yet to know the pressure he may have been under. I hate to hear of this as we're also trying to protect the athletes in our sport."