US Olympic figure skating coach given lifetime ban following investigation into abuse allegations


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The U.S. Center for SafeSport issued a lifetime ban for U.S. Olympic pairs figure skating coach Dalilah Sappenfield Wednesday, citing physical and emotional misconduct. 

SafeSport, a national nonprofit organization founded in 2017, announced the ban on its central disciplinary database this week. In addition to the abuse, the entry cites retaliation, proactive policy violation, abuse of process and failure to report. 

A skater jumps during the Figure Skating Gala Exhibition at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Capital Indoor Stadium Feb. 20, 2022, in Beijing, China.  (David Ramos/Getty Images)

“Culture change is happening,” SafeSport CEO Ju’Riese Colón told USA Today in a statement. 

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“Actions that were once tolerated or ignored are no longer accepted, and accountability is taking root,” she continued. 

“That’s progress, but creating long-term culture change requires steadfast commitment by everyone in the sport community to fostering safe environments for athletes to fulfill their potential. Those who cling to toxic tactics will be left behind and on the wrong side of history.”

The ban comes more than two years after an investigation into Sappenfield was launched by SafeSport.

According to a USA Today report published in 2021, Sappenfield was temporarily barred from having contact with a dozen skaters and coaching without supervision following allegations of verbal abuse from 2016 U.S. national pairs champion Tarah Kayne. 

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Coach Dalilah Sappenfield at the Hilton Honors Skate America at Citizens Business Bank Arena Oct. 23, 2011, in Ontario, Calif.   (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

RUSSIAN FIGURE SKATING PHENOM KAMILA VALIEVA LEARNS FATE IN OLYMPICS DOPING SCANDAL

Kayne, who was among those Sappenfield was not to have contact with, detailed the abuse allegations to the outlet. She said it led her to cut herself with a razor blade in 2019 while at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.  

“She was constantly talking about sex, about who I was dating, about my sex life,” Kayne told the outlet at the time. “It was completely inappropriate, but that’s what Dalilah does. She uses gossip from other skaters in the rink against you.

“She knew I was struggling with my mental health, but instead of helping me, she chose to make fun of me. She even went to other skaters and told them about it, calling me names and asking the guys why anyone would want to date me.”

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Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea perform in the championship pairs short program during the U.S. Figure Skating Championships at Greensboro Coliseum Complex. (Bob Donnan/USA Today Sports)

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Another incident involving a 16-year-old female Russian pairs skater, who was staying at Sappenfield’s home in 2020, was also reported to SafeSport, according to USA Today. 

U.S. Figure Skating announced on its website it “adopts the sanction imposed by the Center finding Dalilah Sappenfield Ineligible effective May 29, 2024.” 

Sappenfield did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital.

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