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Plagiarism case embarrasses taekwondo officials

The International Olympic Committee’s investigation into a plagiarism case involving Korean IOC member Moon Dae-sung is causing embarrassment to the local taekwondo officials.

Moon was among four athletes elected to the IOC Athletes Commission in 2008, becoming the first Asian athlete to win a seat on the 19-member commission.

His membership, however, is now in question as the IOC is considering whether to convene the Ethics Commission to discuss his case.

Moon, who won a gold in taekwondo at the 2004 Olympics, has become a symbol of the sport, playing a leading role in maintaining and improving its foothold in the IOC, said Cho Yong-ki, vice president of Korea Taekwondo Association.

Moon Dae-sung

Moon Dae-sung

The IOC is currently looking into plagiarism allegations against Moon, following Kookmin University’s announcement last week that he had plagiarized his doctoral dissertation submitted in 2007.

The timing, Cho added, could not be worse. He was referring to the IOC’s evaluation of its Olympics disciplines scheduled for 2013.

The IOC earlier adopted more flexible rules to add new Olympic sports, providing a new hope to many sports, including karate, wushu, squash and roller sports that have been on the waiting list for many years.

This, however, has left some concerns for other sports, including taekwondo, as all sports would be up for review after the 2012 London Olympics.

The IOC will select 25 “core” sports from the current 26 sports for the 2020 Olympics. New sports will be included or others dropped by a simple majority vote by the IOC members in  2013.

IOC president Jacques Rogge said earlier that the core sports can only disappear from Olympics due to exceptional reasons, such as a drug scandal, corruption or a massive drop in popularity.

Since last year, taekwondo officials here have been working together closely, calling for a united support to maintain the sport’s global status in order to be a “core” sport as they feel strong challenges from other sports, in particular karate and wushu.

But some now fear that Moon’s plagiarism could tarnish its campaign.

“I hope not but If Moon loses his IOC membership, it will affect our campaign,” Cho added.

Meanwhile, the World Taekwondo Federation, the sport’s governing body, declined to comment on Moon’s case.

The IOC noted on Friday that it will decide whether to discuss Moon’s membership after receiving a “definitive decision” by Kookmin University.

“We have set up a special committee to investigate Moon’s plagiarism,” an official from the university told The Korea Herald on Monday. But the investigation could take up to four months before a final decision is reached, he added.

By Oh Kyu-wook (