Сhampion American figure skater John Coughlin has died

Jaimie-lee Prince
Jan 21, 2019
12:05 P.M.
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John Coughlin was put under a more serious suspension one day before he took his own life in an apparent suicide.


On Friday, Kansas City Police entered the home of Coughlin at the 10900 block of Washington Street. They were responding to a call of death by suicide.

At around 4:54 p.m., they found Coughlin apparently deceased. Sergeant Jake Bechhina confirmed the details and identification of the former U.S. figure skater.

Coughlin, 33, worked as a commentator after winning two U.S. Pairs championships. In 2011 and 2012, he placed sixth and eighth respectively in the world championships.

At the time of his death, Coughlin was under investigation for sexual abuse. The allegations began on December 17 and led to restricted participation in figure skating events.


Coughlin's sister, Angela Laune, posted a message to Facebook addressing her brother's passing.

She wrote:

"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..."

The Professional Skating Association also released a statement to announce the news and share condolences.

It read:

"It is with the greatest of sadness that PSA shares with you the heartbreaking news of the death of our colleague, John Coughlin. The PSA wishes to extend our deepest sympathies to his family, father Mike, sister Angela, and friends.”


Coughlin's former coach, Dalilah Sappenfield, also expressed her sentiments via a Facebook note.

A portion of it read;

“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.”

And fellow skater Johnny Weir took to Twitter to share his tribute:

“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.”


On January 7, Coughlin resigned from being brand manager of John Wilson Blades. By January 17, SafeSport put Coughlin under "temporary suspension."

A statement attained by PEOPLE read:

"[Coughlin is] “prohibited from participating, in any capacity, in any activity or competition authorized by, organized by, or under the auspices of the United States Olympic Committee, the national governing bodies recognized by the United States Olympic Committee, including U.S. Figure Skating, and/or a Local Affiliated Organization of a national governing body recognized by the United States Olympic Committee.”

Specific details of the allegations remain unknown. Furthermore, a source from PEOPLE claims that the investigation will be discontinued following Coughlin's death.


Before his suicide, Coughlin described the accusations as "unfounded." He spoke to USA Today upon his resignation on the 7th.


At the time, he said:

“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. 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.”

Meanwhile, Coughlin's case was criticized online by many although nothing was confirmed. A fellow skater and a member of the Olympic Figure Skating team Chris Knierim was compelled to remind others about the innocent until proven guilty in a court of law rule.


Knierim tweeted:

"I’m behaving as if there is no conviction. I’m not heavy on one side or the other. When the final verdict comes out after the investigation is over I will not fight it. True or false it’s all a terrible situation for everyone involved."


Coughlin had officially retired back in 2015. On Facebook, Sappenfield said the "unsubstantiated allegations" led him to a point where "he no longer had it in him to fight."

Another heartwrenching story of a figure skater who was taken away is Denis Ten. The Olympic medal winner was killed back in July 2018.


The 25-year-old passed away after two men tried to steal his car mirrors. They stabbed him at the intersection of Kurmangazy and Baiseitova streets in Almaty.

Ten's former training partner, Mirai Nagasu, as well as his family and friends, were left distraught at his untimely death.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org.

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