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Cheating scandal hits short track skating again

Posted December. 24, 2010 11:18,   


Cheating in short track skating has been discovered again, sending shockwaves throughout the sports world.

Police said Thursday that Olympic gold medalists-turned-coaches conspired to rig the rankings in a national competition that grants the winners berths on the national team. This followed the punishment of competitors Kwak Yoon-gi and Lee Jung-soo in April for a similar offense, after which the entire leadership of the Korea Skating Union resigned.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said Wednesday that it issued an arrest warrant against a 45-year-old coach and 13 personal coaches, including two gold medalists.

They were booked without detention for allegedly manipulating the results of the tournament in advance so that high school seniors could win the short track national competition for high school students at Seongnam Tancheon Sports Complex March 6-7.

Police said personal coaches for public school and adult short track skaters conspired to make untouted high school seniors win the competition at a coffee shop in southern Seoul in February, a month before the competition.

Hosted by the Seongnam mayor, the tournament is a preliminary competition to select the national team hosted by the skating union. An award from this competition grants the winner the chance to major in sports in college.

The coaches allegedly picked 11 high school seniors with no awards and made a confidential memo over the rigged tournament. They decided on the ranks of the students to win by playing rock, scissors and paper and explained the game to the students with rankings.

One coach reportedly said, “Since you are No. 2, you can follow No. 1 and other kids will move back for you.”

High performing high school sophomores and freshmen were told to “take it easy” or encouraged to give up. When certain parents protested after learning of this, the coaches allegedly threatened the parents, with one saying, "Push your children (to follow our plan) or make them fall in the competition.”

Police said the coaches admitted what they did but kept saying it was inevitable "for the sake of the future of short track skating.” The coaches said they feared a thin talent pool if the seniors did not win awards and failed to go to college.

Certain coaches are said to have submitted a petition asking for lenient punishment for the coaches who led the rigging.