DUI offence sees three-time Olympic speed skating medallist suspended for 18 months

Image of an ice skate blade. Credit: A.G.A/Shutterstock.com

South Korean Olympic speed skating medallist Kim Min-Seok suspended for 18 months after DUI offence

As reported on Monday, August 8, Kim Min-seok, the South Korean three-time Olympic speed skating medalist has been suspended from competing for 18 months following a DUI offence. Three other skaters were also disciplined by the Korea Skating Union (KSU) over the incident, according to en.yna.co.kr.

The event that led to his suspension took place on July 22, inside the National Training Centre in Jincheon, about 90km south of Seoul, the country’s capital. According to the KSU statement, Kim had gone for dinner that evening with his teammate, teammate Jeong Seon-kyo, and two brothers, Chung Jae-woong and Chung Jae-won.

The four had dined at a restaurant outside the training facility, and indulged in a few drinks over the meal. While drunk, Chung Jae-woong had driven his three teammates back into the compound, at the wheel of Kim’s vehicle.

Once inside the facility, Kim, Jeong and Chung Jae-woong joined a birthday party that was being held at the Welcome Centre for Park Ji-yun, a short-track speed skater. When the party finished, Kim offered to drive Park, Chung, and Jeong back to their dorm. This was when he crashed his car into a structure that separated the driveway from the pavement.

The incident was captured on a security camera, although the skaters did not report the accident, and made their way back to their dorms on foot. Chung was subsequently banned from driving for 12 months for his drunken trip. He was also suspended for six months, along with Jeong who got two months, for aiding and abetting.

As he is the speed skating team’s national coach, 23-year-old Kim Jin-su was hit with a longer suspension for his lack of oversight in the matter. He is the rising star of the national team, winning silver in the men’s team pursuit at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Kim also picked up bronze in the 1,500m, and a second consecutive bronze in the 1,500m came his way at the Beijing Games.  In 2018, Chung also won silver in the team pursuit, and another silver in Beijing competing in the mass start.

“For an athlete, being banned for a year and a half can be career-threatening. However, with Kim Min-seok, we did consider his track record of winning Olympic medals”, said Kim Seong-cheol, head of the KSU’s disciplinary committee.

Kim Seong-cheol explained about Chung Jae-won’s two-month suspension: “He claimed he was so drunk that he didn’t remember which car he rode back to the dorm in. We took that into account when deciding on his penalty”.

“But compared to other sports, the lengths of these penalties aren’t short at all. We weren’t simply trying to protect these athletes by giving them a slap on the wrist”, he added.

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Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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