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2 Korean Olympic medalists get 3-year skating ban

By SANGWON YOON (AP) – 1 hour ago

SEOUL, South Korea — Two South Korean Olympic medalists in short-track speedskating have been banned from competing for three years for their alleged involvement in a race-rigging scandal, officials said Thursday.

The Korea Skating Union suspended Lee Jung-su and Kwak Yoon-gy from all competitions until April 2013 as punishment for allegedly helping to fix competitions and national team tryouts in March, KSU official Kim Tae-wan said.

The two athletes received notice on Tuesday and have seven days to file an appeal, Kim said. In the event of an appeal, the KSU will open a second investigation that could take months to complete.

The three-year ban is stiffer than the penalty proposed by a special joint commission of inquiry that convened last month.

The panel, comprised of representatives from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Korean Olympic Committee and the KSU, had suggested a one-year ban.

The scandal came to light when 20-year-old Lee, a double gold medalist at the Vancouver Olympics in February, failed to qualify for the national team tryouts in March for the world short track championships in Bulgaria, citing a knee injury.

The commission's preliminary investigation last month found that Jeon Jae-mok, a national team coach, had coerced Lee to give up his spot in the championships in favor of Kwak.

Jeon was permanently expelled last month from the sport for masterminding results of national team tryouts to benefit skaters, as recommended by the commission.

Lee, who won gold medals in Vancouver in the men's 1,000 and 1,500-meter races, denied all accusations of having been Jeon's accomplice and claimed he was the victim "of deep-rooted and wrongful practices on the local sport scene," according to the Korea Times.

Kwak, 21, silver medalist in the men's 5,000-meter relay in Vancouver, has admitted to being part of the alleged fixing.

Kim said the KSU has no plans to take away the skaters' pensions.

South Korean Olympic gold medalists receive at least $900 per month in government pensions, as well as additional bonuses.


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Interesting they waited till after the Olympics to rule, and that the skaters will be eligible for 2014.

There is no conspiracy about the timing, the alleged offense took place in March 2010 for the national trials for the world team championships.

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