NEW: Coach Banned for Life

(TheIndependentStar.com) – In a new sports scandal, Dalilah Sappenfield, a prominent U.S. Olympic pairs figure skating coach, has been permanently banned by the U.S. Center for SafeSport over reports of misconduct.

The sanction was imposed due to allegations of physical and emotional misconduct, retaliation, abuse of process, and failure to report a potential violation of SafeSport regulations, The New York Post reports.

This decision was publicized on Wednesday in the organization’s disciplinary database, which detailed the nature of the sanctions as “permanent ineligibility.”

SafeSport, a nonprofit organization founded in 2017 to address and investigate reports of abuse and misconduct within sports, conducted a lengthy inquiry into the accusations.

The investigation was triggered by claims from 2016 U.S. pairs champion Tarah Kayne, who reported misconduct by Sappenfield in 2021.

Despite the severe nature of the allegations, Sappenfield retains the option to contest the lifetime ban.

“Culture change is happening. Actions that were once tolerated or ignored are no longer accepted, and accountability is taking root,” CEO of SafeSport, Ju’Riese Colon, told USA Today Sports.

“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,” Colon added.

The investigation into Sappenfield began after reports surfaced that she engaged in verbal abuse towards Kayne, which allegedly contributed to a distressing incident in 2019.

Kayne disclosed that the abuse led her to harm herself while staying at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

During the investigation, Sappenfield was restricted from contact with several skaters, including Kayne, and was required to have another adult present when coaching.

Sappenfield chose not to comment on the allegations at the time they were made public. However, Kayne offered a detailed account of her experiences to USA Today in 2021.

“She was constantly talking about sex, about who I was dating, about my sex life. 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,” Kayne disclosed.

Further investigations by SafeSport revealed another potential misconduct issue involving a 16-year-old female Russian pairs skater who was staying at Sappenfield’s residence in the fall of 2020, alongside two male skaters over the age of 18.

Housing a minor athlete contravenes SafeSport regulations, leading to additional scrutiny of Sappenfield’s conduct.

Sappenfield’s coaching history includes leading Alexa and Chris Knierim to a team bronze medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

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