SEOUL (Reuters) - The Korea Skating Union is “urgently” investigating allegations that a coach assaulted short track gold medalist Shim Suk-hee and an independent commission will rule whether punishment is appropriate or not, a KSU official told Reuters on Tuesday.
Shim, who won gold, silver and bronze medals in Sochi four years ago, left the Jincheon National Training Center last week after an incident with her coach, who the KSU said has since been suspended during their investigations.
“We want to deal with this problem as urgently as possible, so that all athletes and staff can bounce back from this case and focus only on training for the upcoming Olympics,” said the official, who asked not to be named.
The case would be reviewed by a panel of lawyers and professors with no connection to the KSU, he said, adding that this kind of issue was not confined to the organization and that other Korean sports bodies had experienced similar cases.
“Before becoming part of the KSU, all athletes and staff must sign a contract which says that under no condition is physical assault allowed,” the official added.
“These days in South Korea, there are fewer reports about assaults so that’s why I believe Shim’s case has garnered huge attention... because these days it is so rare.”
Shim’s agency Galaxia SM had said in a statement that the skater, who is expected to pick up several medals at next month’s Pyeongchang Olympics, had been rocked by the incident.
“Right now, we don’t have clear facts as to what transpired between the coach and the athlete,” it said. “Shim has been shaken up by this case more than anyone.”
Reporting by Haejin Choi; Writing by Peter Rutherford; Editing by John O'Brien