USA TODAY Sports' Rachel Axon discusses Senate subcommittee hearing
where former athletes criticized the national governing bodies for their
sport as well as the USOC and others for failing to prevent and stop
USA TODAY Sports
U.S. Figure Skating official who was suspended in 2010 for
“inappropriate and unethical conduct,” which three people with direct
knowledge of the situation say stemmed from a sexual relationship with a
16-year-old male skater, is scheduled to officiate at a sanctioned USFS
competition involving hundreds of young skaters in Dallas this weekend.
Pottenger, 31, is a former skater and current coach and official who
was suspended for six months on May 1, 2010, by the Professional Skaters
Association, then placed on probation for an additional 24 months by
the PSA, the sport’s coaches organization.
currently being investigated by the U.S. Center for SafeSport due to the
relationship, according to one of the people who also has direct
knowledge of the investigation. The three people spoke on the condition
of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
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is scheduled to work as a technical specialist or assistant technical
specialist 16 times Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Skate Dallas, an
important regional skating competition.
a telephone interview last month, Pottenger confirmed that he had a
relationship with a skater while he was coaching in Newark, Del., nearly
a decade ago.
“I was a coach dating a skater,” he told USA TODAY Sports. “I was never his coach and never gave him a lesson.”
how old the skater was, Pottenger said, “I don’t recall that right now.
I don’t recall that. I remember reviewing all the laws.”
Asked if he ever had a relationship with someone under 18, Pottenger replied, “I think that’s the end of my statement.”
skater was 16 years old, according to the three people. USA TODAY
Sports is not identifying the skater given his age at the time of the
Delaware, a 16- or 17-year-old can legally consent to sex with a
partner under the age of 30. Pottenger was 22 at the time of his
relationship with the skater.
When asked for a
comment on Wednesday, Pottenger said through his lawyer: "This was a
consensual relationship that took place nine years ago and was in
compliance with all laws."
USFS spokeswoman Barb Reichert said the organization “was just made aware of this allegation” and had no comment at this time.
spokesman Dan Hill said he would not confirm if the center is
investigating Pottenger and would not have any additional comment.
was suspended by the PSA’s Committee on Professional Standards for
“violations of the Code of Ethics” in a finding dated April 19, 2010, a
copy of which was obtained by USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday.
document does not reference Pottenger's relationship with the skater
but says he was found to have violated two rules of the PSA’s code of
"Members of the Professional Skaters
Association shall at all times exercise the greatest care and discretion
in their relationships with other members, pupils and pupils of other
And, “A member shall at all times avoid
conflicts of interest which can be considered to exist at any time when
the actions of the member for his or her self or on behalf of a skater
would involve the obtaining of an improper advantage.”
Santee, PSA executive director, told USA TODAY Sports Wednesday of
his organization’s 2010 suspension of Pottenger: "People should always
be held accountable for their actions. In our case, there was a process
and there was a finding and he was punished. We didn’t have anything in
our rules and procedures to do anything different. But it is a really
serious subject and I’m glad it’s being looked into again. We have to
figure out a way to stop this.”
who competed as a pairs skater more than a decade ago, currently is
skating manager of The Rinks Anaheim Ice in Southern California, where
he is in contact with dozens of young skaters a day. As a technical
specialist at competitions, he identifies the elements the skater
performs in real time; for instance, the type of spin and the level of
difficulty of that element based on published criteria.