Olympic speedskater Gabel apologizes for alleged sexual misconduct [Chicago Tribune]
|By Philip Hersh and Jared S. Hopkins, Chicago Tribune|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
"Almost two decades ago I displayed poor judgment in a brief, inappropriate relationship with a female teammate," Gabel told the Tribune. "It did not include sex, however I know what happened was wrong, and I make no excuses for my behavior. I apologize to her, and I am sorry for bringing negative attention to the sport that I love."
Meanwhile, the head of the
"In sport, as in life, we have a duty to do everything we can to protect our children from abuse at the hands of adults," USOC chief executive
US Speedskating released a statement that it had begun investigating the allegations from the 31-year-old Farrell -- first made public Thursday on
"Our current understanding is that it was not reported to anyone at US Speedskating or the authorities at that time," the
Gabel, who grew up in the
Messages sent to the ISU seeking comment Friday and Saturday were not returned.
Farrell told the radio station and, subsequently, other media outlets that Gabel engaged in improper sexual contact with her multiple times in
"I couldn't talk about it at the time," she said. "If you look at the players involved, I'm a kid and he's a god in speedskating. My purpose is to change the culture of sport."
No charges have been filed and allegations were not reported in the '90s to US Speedskating or the
In his statement to the Tribune, Blackmun directed people to the USOC program safesport.org as a resource.
Farrell told the radio station that as a young girl she was in awe of Gabel, who helped her with equipment and allowed her to drive his car. But she said she knew the relationship was inappropriate because he urged her to keep the contact secret. She told the station she suffered through depression and eating disorders in the years following the relationship.
She said on the air that Gabel was a trusted friend of her family. When asked by the Tribune to elaborate on the relationship, she described it as inappropriate and physical.
She also said: "I was not raped. We did not have sex."
She added she didn't tell her family about the relationship until 2009.
Farrell began skating as a child in
The accusations are the latest controversy in speedskating.
Last year, the U.S. short-track national team coach resigned after skaters accused him of physical and verbal abuse. A law firm US Speedskating hired later cleared him of the charges.
On Sunday, the Tribune published an investigation that showed for years the federation has been plagued by financial and organizational problems, spinning the sport into chaos as skaters' performance has declined.
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