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Baseball’s game-fixing scandal ends with 19 indictments

Nov 08,2016
A game-rigging scandal that has overshadowed Korean professional baseball this year led to the indictment of 19 people including both players and team officials.

The Gyeonggi Bukbu Provincial Police Agency announced Monday the result of its investigation into the game-rigging scandal. A total of 19 individuals were charged with violating the National Sports Promotion Act, which prohibits anyone involved in professional sports - players, coaches, referees or managers - from receiving any financial benefit for requests made in relation to sports.

Seven of the people were current or former baseball pitchers. Two executives of the NC Dinos, the runners-up in this year’s Korean Series, were indicted without physical detention for fraud, the first time that club officials were implicated in a game-rigging racket.

According to the police, the general manager and chief of operations of the Dinos were indicted for fraud for failing to report to the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) that Lee Sung-min, who joined the Dinos in 2013, was involved in match-fixing out of the fear that the image of the club would be tarnished.

Instead, the officials allegedly concealed Lee’s involvement and then in 2014 sold him to KT Wiz, raking in 1 billion won ($875,020) in the process.

The trade was questioned at the time since Lee was considered a promising up-and-comer whom they paid 300 million won as a signing bonus.

Lee, a righty who now pitches for Lotte Giants, has a 5.63 earned run average in his career with 15 wins and 18 losses as well as four saves and 12 holds.

Lee is one of the two pitchers in the KBO roster that were indicted. Yoo Chang-sik of the KIA Tigers, was also booked for fixing games in 2014.

According to the police, Lee allegedly received three million won from a broker to intentionally walk a batter on July 4, 2014 in a game against LG Twins. Yoo, a southpaw who was pitching for Hanwha Eagles at the time, walked two batters in April 2014 in two different games. Yoo allegedly received three million won.

“The club’s official stance since July was to cooperate fully with the police investigation and disclose anything necessary and ultimately assume responsibility for whatever happens,” said the Dinos, according to the KBO website on Monday. “We have no excuse for what happened involving the club. Above all else, we apologize to the fans for violating the ‘clean baseball’ code.”

The KBO will decide additional penalties for the players and the Dinos. According to Yonhap News Agency, Yang Hae-young, secretary general of the KBO, said, “We’ve just heard about the result of the police investigation, but we’ll be able to talk about it [the penalty] after the court’s final ruling.

“If the match fixing is true, they will probably face a lifetime ban,” Yang added.

BY CHOI HYUNG-JO [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]


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