Three of Americas top young speed skaters will miss February’s junior worlds in Poland, where many Olympians make their first mark in the sport, because the U.S. federation didn’t establish the skaters’ international eligibility in time for the deadline set by the sport’s governing body.
“I cried until my tears didn’t come out,” Sally Chea, 15, told the Washington Post. “This was the competition I trained for all season, and they took it away from me.”
All three skaters are Korean-Americans with green-cards, not citizenship, and have filed a formal complaint with the USOC alleging discrimination after a closed-door meeting at last weeks junior nationals. The three claim that U.S. Speedskating officials demanded proof of citizenship from only the Korean Americans at the event.
International Skating Union spokesperson Tamera Castellano said wasn’t certain about the Korean-American’s citizenship status in time for worlds, but added that the descent of their Canadian-American teammates was clarified through private conversations earlier in the week.
“The time of this was absolutely unfortunate,” said Castellano. “These athletes must have been devastated; to know that is heartbreaking. That’s not what anybody wanted — especially juniors. Could we have handled the timing of this better, such that perhaps the situation could have been avoided? Hindsight is 20-20.”