A US Olympic snowboard coach is being investigated after a former athlete accused him of inappropriate behavior.
Callan Chythlook-Sifsof, who competed with the national snowboard cross team for about a decade, including the 2010 Vancouver Games, said in a series of Instagram posts on Friday that longtime coach Peter Foley of the USA Snowboard Team, had taken “naked photos of female athletes for more than a decade.
She described a broad culture of sexual misconduct, including an episode in which Foley, she said, made sexual remarks about her and another snowboarder.
Foley, who is in China for the Winter Olympics, denied any wrongdoing.
“I was totally surprised by the allegations,” he told The New York Times on Saturday. “I vehemently deny the allegations. I did my best to focus on supporting athletes at the Olympics.
Chythlook-Sifsof also accused Hagen Kearney, an American snowboarder who competed at the Beijing Games on Thursday, of repeatedly harassing her in 2014 with a racial epithet.
Kearney said on Instagram that he apologized for what he described as disgusting and stupid behavior. He added that he was “at risk of being fired from Team USA” due to the use of the epithet.
“I didn’t have the same head on my shoulders back then as I do now, and Callan was a big part of me changing and growing as a human,” he said. “I am a bigger and better person now. People make mistakes in life and this was definitely my biggest one.
Chythlook-Sifsof, now 32, left the team in 2014. She did not immediately respond to an interview request.
“US Ski & Snowboard has been made aware of the recent allegations,” federation spokesman Tom Horrocks said in a statement. “We take these allegations very seriously, and the allegations are being investigated. Concerns about Hagen were addressed at the time and appropriate action was taken.
Allegations should be referred to the US Center for SafeSport, an independent body that handles allegations of abuse and misconduct in Olympic sports.
Foley has been the team’s head coach since its inception in 1994. Two of the team’s longtime athletes, Lindsey Jacobellis and Nick Baumgartner, won gold on Saturday in the mixed team event, the last snowboard cross competition of these Olympic Games.
The win came days after Jacobellis won a gold medal in women’s snowboard cross. Kearney finished 17th in his event on Thursday. He finished 13th at the 2018 Winter Games.
Jacobellis and Baumgartner each defended Foley after winning gold on Saturday.
“My 20 years on the team, I can speak very well of his character, and he’s always supported me through everything I’ve been through,” Jacobellis said.
Baumgartner said Foley was “like a father” to him.
“I can’t speak any higher of this man,” Baumgartner said.
On Friday, Chythlook-Sifsof said on Instagram that “I can’t watch any other Olympics without saying it publicly,” while tagging the Instagram accounts of Foley, Kearney and the USA Snowboard Team.
She described several episodes of sexual misconduct, such as jokes about oral sex and rape. “Just another day on the USA Snowboard Team,” she wrote.