Korean skating champ banned for harassment

SEOUL • South Korean Olympic short-track speed skating champion Lim Hyo-jun has been banned from competition for a year for sexually harassing a fellow male athlete, officials said yesterday.

Lim, 23, won the 1,500m gold on home ice at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang and also took bronze in the 500m.

In June, he forcibly pulled down the victim's trousers in front of other teammates at the national training centre, a Korea Skating Union (KSU) official said.

"Lim will be banned from competing in any sporting event until August 7 next year," added the official.

The KSU also suspended four short-track speed skaters, two of them Olympic medallists, from the training centre for two months on Friday for "misbehaviour involving drinking", it said in a statement.

The cases are two of the latest in a series of embarrassing off-field incidents in South Korean sports.

The nation is a international sporting power and regularly featured among the top 10 of the medal standings at the summer and winter Olympics.

But in an already intensely competitive society, winning is virtually everything in its sports community - and physical and verbal abuse are rife.

The nation's short-track speed skating community in particular has faced several serious abuse scandals in recent years.

In January, double Olympic gold medallist Shim Suk-hee went public with accusations her former coach sexually molested and physically abused her multiple times. Also earlier this year, a male skater was suspended for a month after entering the female dorm at the national training centre.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2019, with the headline 'Korean skating champ banned for harassment'. Print Edition | Subscribe