Snowboarding-U.S. coach denies allegations, American athlete admits using racial slur

ZHANGJIAKOU, China, Feb 12 (Reuters) - A U.S. snowboard coach denied on Saturday allegations of inappropriate conduct made by a former Winter Olympian, while an American competitor issued a statement admitting past use of a strong racial slur but denying other allegations.

U.S. Ski and Snowboard said it was investigating allegations made by former Olympic snowboarder Callan Chythlook-Sifsof in a series of posts on Instagram over the last four days about coach Peter Foley.

Reuters could not reach Chythlook-Sifsof. Reuters could not independently confirm or deny her allegations.

Foley strongly denied the allegations, speaking to reporters after his team's snowboard cross win at the Beijing Winter Olympics.

"I was totally surprised by the allegations," Foley said. "I vehemently deny the allegations.

"I've been doing my best to concentrate on supporting the athletes at the Olympics."

Separately, Hagen Kearney, a current U.S. snowboard cross competitor, issued a statement on his Instagram account on Saturday, saying he had used the N-word in what he called a "joking context" in an argument during a van ride while he was around Chythlook-Sifsof in December 2013 to aggravate her.

He called it an act of "utter stupidity and disgusting behavior" on his part and said he had immediately regretted what he had done.

Chythlook-Sifsof is of Yupik/Inupiaq Eskimo heritage and grew up in Alaska.

U.S. Ski and Snowboard said the concerns regarding Kearney were dealt with at the time and said appropriate action was taken.

"The coaches were prompty informed of what happened and I faced being let go from the US Team," Kearney wrote, adding that he had apologised to Chythlook-Sifsof for it at the time.

He denied other allegations contained in Chythlook-Sifsof's post.

"At no point during this instance did I fake punch at her, follow her, shout the N-word repeatedly, and I have certainly never made rape jokes while being on this team, but I am still ashamed about using that word to this day," he said.

Reuters could not immediately reach Kearney for comment.

U.S. Ski and Snowboard said in a statement it had been made aware of recent allegations about coach Foley.

"We take these allegations very seriously and the allegations are being investigated," it said.

The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee said in a statement it had followed protocol.

"Our policy is that all instances of abuse are reported to U.S Center for Safesport," the committee said in a statement on Saturday.

Reporting by Reuters Olympics staff Editing by Ken Ferris and Frances Kerry

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