By PAUL NEWBERRY
AP National Writer
Andy Gabel stepped down from major committees at the International Skating Union and U.S. Speedskating after being accused of a sexual relationship with an underage skater in the 1990s.
ISU President Ottavio Cinquanta said Monday that Gabel quit as chairman of the short track committee, which governs the frenzied sport best known in the United States for the achievements of Apolo Anton Ohno, the most decorated Winter Olympian in the country’s history.
“(Gabel) has communicated that he resigned,” Cinquanta told The Associated Press. “I cannot say anything else. It would be inappropriate if I would make some further comment as he is no longer with us.”
U.S. speedskating spokeswoman Tamara Castellano said Gabel resigned from the national Hall of Fame committee, which oversees the selection process for inductees.
Gabel is also a member of the Hall, but it wasn’t immediately clear if there was a provision to remove someone who has received the honor. Meanwhile, the U.S. Speedskating board was holding its regular monthly meeting Monday and was expected to discuss the allegations.
Gabel issued a statement to media outlets in Chicago and Milwaukee saying he “displayed poor judgment in a brief and inappropriate relationship with a female teammate.” He has not responded to several requests for comment from the AP.
The 48-year-old Gabel competed in four Olympics as a short track skater, including 1988 when it was a demonstration sport. He was part of a silver medal-winning relay team at the 1994 Lillehammer Games and is a former president of U.S. Speedskating.
Speedskater Bridie Farrell said she was 15 and Gabel 33 when their relationship began in 1997. She said it continued over several months and she knew it was wrong, but she was “star-struck” by the attention Gabel gave her.
The case is the latest in a series of sexual abuse scandals involving Olympic sports in the U.S. Most notably, swimming has been rocked by allegations of numerous coaches having sexual relationships with underage athletes, prompting the governing body to go public with the list of individuals receiving lifetime bans. A former national team director is among those on the list.