The dark side of the international Olympic stage

A congressional-authorized organization compiles a list of coaches banned from the Olympics for sexual misconduct and abuse. Eight are from northeast Ohio.

CLEVELAND – Olympic Sports: They are the most competitive, exciting and historic moments in the world, setting sporting standards.

But on the other side of the international scene is a world of sexual abuse.

Olympic coaches and coaches who have exploited athletes have ended up in a legal world fraught with accusations and, in some cases, removal from the competitive world.

The US Center for Safe Sport is an organization authorized by Congress to prosecute abuse among Olympic athletes, coaches and other employees.

The organization’s centralized disciplinary database is one place to find any “competitor,” the title the organization uses for any coach or staff member with a US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) membership from any Olympic sport who is charged or convicted of a sex crime against an athlete.

The database also illustrates the discipline they received from the USOPC.

US Safe Sport officials said competitors may be listed in the database for three reasons:

  • When convicted of a sex crime in court.
  • If an internal investigation by the organization determines that the participant has violated the organization’s code of conduct.
  • Temporarily listed in the database when an investigation is pending in court or within the organization.

“The database is the first of its kind,” said a spokesman for the organizations, Daniel Hill. “It is intended to bring more accountability so participants, organizations and others are made aware of individuals who have been sanctioned by the center.”

The database lists over 1,700 participants. Inside you’ll find some of the most notorious convicted doctors, such as Larry Nassar, who molested hundreds of Olympic gymnasts in his nearly 20 years in US gymnastics.

In a more detailed search, 3News found 122 of the hundreds of participants in Ohio.

Eight of them are in northeast Ohio.

The names include Michael Thompson, a Canton volleyball coach who confessed to having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old player in 2015. Thompson pleaded guilty to charges of sexual assault and gross sexual assault and was sentenced to four years and 11 months in prison.

Sam Seiple, a former McKinley High School swim coach, pleaded guilty to having sex with a former student in 2017.

Thompson and Seiple are permanently ineligible to train for Olympic sports, according to the database.

Also on the list is former US figure skating coach William “Bill” Coyle, who was ruled ineligible by the USOPC for criminal injunction over a minor.

Coyle resigned from the Greater Cleveland Council for Figure Skating Clubs in February, according to meeting minutes released online.

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Of the seven Northeast Ohio coaches listed in the database, Peter Kim is one of the few coaches who are still a coach.

The former US taekwondo coach was convicted of sexual assault in the early 2000s and was a registered sex offender in Ohio until 2013.

Kim is now the owner of a martial arts facility in Braunschweig.

3News Investigates tried to sit down with Kim, who declined a formal interview, saying we were trying to “put it all behind.”

Off camera, Kim said he met with parents in May, spoke about his past and that 25 percent of his clients have left the gym.

Advocates of sexual violence told 3News Investigates that the time spent between athletes and coaches is often fragile and has fueled a culture of abuse.

“All I think about is power,” said Taylr Ucker-Lauderman of the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence. “Whether it’s that type of relationship where, like you said, sport is your life, it’s very difficult to navigate when someone is taking power over you. We can’t expect people to always feel comfortable and say what they need and say what feels safe for them.”

Olympic disciplinary action against these coaches falls solely within the purview of Olympic sports, Hill said.

US Safe Sport officials said that while there is no way to ensure these coaches will not return to training, the database is intended to serve as a resource for parents or others when screening or conducting a background check.

Here you can search the database yourself.

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