SEOUL: A South Korean judo star who won a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics has been banned for life from the sport’s national body over allegations of sexual assault against a teenager.
Wang Ki-chun rose to fame after coming second in the men’s under 73-kilo category in Beijing despite suffering a rib cage fracture in the early rounds.
He was arrested earlier this month for the alleged sexual assault of a minor, and if convicted could be jailed for life.
In a unanimous decision, the Korea Judo Association banned the 31-year-old over the incident, effectively ending his sporting career.
The association said it took into account Wang’s “inappropriate” conduct which undermined the “integrity and social standing of judo” when deciding on the life ban, according to Yonhap news agency.
Wang has seven days to lodge an appeal.
South Korea is a regional sporting power and regularly in the top 10 medal table places 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.
Just last week, Olympic short-track speed skating medallist Lim Hyo-jun was convicted of sexually harassing a fellow male athlete by pulling down his trousers, fined 3 million won (US$2,450) and ordered to undergo 40 hours of therapy for sex offenders.
Last year, double Olympic gold medallist Shim Suk-hee went public with accusations her former coach sexually molested and physically abused her multiple times.
The coach was jailed for a year-and-a-half.
Also in 2019, a male skater was suspended for a month after secretly getting into the female dorm at the national training centre.