2 South Korean Olympic medalists appeal 3-year skating ban for race fixing

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

2 SKorean Olympic medalists appeal skating ban

SEOUL, South Korea — Two South Korean Olympic short-track speedskating medalists appealed their three-year bans Tuesday for alleged involvement in a race-rigging scandal.

The Korea Skating Union last week suspended Lee Jung-su and Kwak Yoon-gy from all competition until April 2013 as punishment for allegedly helping to fix races and national team tryouts in March.

Lee, 20, won gold in the men’s 1,000 and 1,500 meters at the Vancouver Olympics in February. Kwak, 21, was a silver medalist in the men’s 5,000-meter relay at Vancouver.

The KSU plans to review their appeals within 30 days, KSU official Kim Tae-wan said.

Lee and Kwak can appeal to the Korean Olympic Committee if they believe they can not accept a decision to be made by the KSU, said Kim, noting the KOC can make a final decision in the event of an appeal.

Lee and Kwak were not immediately available for comment.

The scandal surfaced when Lee 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 banned from the sport last month for rigging results of national team tryouts to benefit selected skaters.

Lee 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 has admitted to having an involvement in the alleged race fixing.

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