Basketball: US women's player faces S. Korea ban over forged documents

Basketball player Chelsey Lee during an awards ceremony in Seoul, on March 7, 2016.
Basketball player Chelsey Lee during an awards ceremony in Seoul, on March 7, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (AFP) - A South Korean basketball club said on Friday that it planned to sue a star American player accused of using forged birth documents to play as an overseas Korean in the women's domestic league.

The player, Chelsey Lee, also faces a possible permanent ban by the Women's Korean Basketball League (WKBL).

South Korean prosecutors said this week that Lee and her two agents had fabricated her and her father's birth certificates to suggest she had a South Korean paternal grandmother.

Teams in the WKBL are only allowed two foreign players, but foreigners who qualify for overseas Korean status - by having a Korean parent or grandparent - are not included in the quota.

"We plan to file a lawsuit for damages against Lee and her two agents," a senior official of Lee's club KEB Hana Bank told AFP.

"We won't allow her to move to a different club unless we are fully compensated," the official said, adding that two club representatives would visit the United States next week to meet with Lee's agents.

WKBL spokesman Kim Il Ku said the league was considering a permanent ban on Lee for what he said amounted to "fraud".

"WKBL regulations bar anyone who commits such a criminal act from playing in the league," he said.

The 26-year-old Miami-born centre won the league's rookie of the year honours in the 2015-16 season played a major role in getting her team to the championship series.

Lee was recommended for South Korean citizenship by the Korean Basketball Association and the Korean Olympic Committee so that she could help South Korea qualify for the Rio Olympics.

But some of the documents she provided raised suspicions and, following a months-long investigation, prosecutors concluded that the birth certificates were forged.