KSOC adds to punishment for drinking speed skaters

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KSOC adds to punishment for drinking speed skaters

The Korean Olympic body increased the penalty for five speed skaters caught drinking at a national training facility Wednesday, overriding an earlier ruling by the sport’s national federation.

The Korean Sport & Olympic Committee (KSOC) said the five skaters - Kim Tae-yun, Kim Cheol-min, Kim Jun-ho, Kim Jin-su and Noh Jun-soo - will be suspended for six months, tripling the length of the ban handed down by the Korea Skating Union (KSU) last Friday.

In addition, the KSOC banned Lee In-sik, head coach of the national speed skating team, for one month and ordered all skaters on Lee’s team to complete 24 hours of community service.

The five skaters were found to have consumed alcohol inside the Korea National Training Center in northern Seoul on June 27. Athletes are strictly prohibited from drinking there.

It happened only two days after the national short track speed skating team was expelled from the Jincheon National Training Center in Jincheon, North Chungcheong, over a sexual harassment incident involving two male skaters.

The KSU was criticized last week for giving the five speed skaters only a slap on the wrist, and the KSOC took the matter into its own hands.

A two-month ban would have made the five eligible to return in time for the national team trials for the 2019-2020 season at the end of October.

Of the five, Kim Tae-yun is the 2018 Olympic bronze medalist in the men’s 1,000 meters, while Kim Cheol-min won silver in the men’s team pursuit at the 2014 Winter Games.

This is only the latest black eye for the national skating community, which has been marred by several unsavory incidents in recent months.

Former national short track team coach Cho Jae-beom was convicted of physically assaulting Olympic champion Shim Suk-hee in January this year, and Cho will stand trial on separate charges of sexually assaulting Shim.

Prosecutors indicted Cho on charges of sexually assaulting and molesting the 22-year-old Shim around 30 times beginning in 2014, when she was a high school student. His sexual assaults continued until December 2017, around two months before the opening of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

In February, male short track speed skater Kim Gun-woo was suspended for a month for trespassing in the female dormitory at Jincheon. Kim Ye-jin, a female short tracker who gave Kim Gun-woo an access pass to enter the female-only area, received a reprimand and was ordered to complete 10 hours of community service.

Both also lost their national team spots ahead of the world championships in March.

Last month, two-time Olympic speed skating gold medalist Lee Seung-hoon received a one-year suspension for physically assaulting junior teammates.

A day before issuing its initial penalty on the five speed skaters, the KSU suspended Olympic short track champion Lim Hyo-jun for one year after he pulled down the pants of a younger male teammate in Jincheon.

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