‘Corruption may have forced Ahn to switch’

2014-02-13 19:14

Russia’s Viktor Ahn (Yonhap)
President Park Geun-hye said Thursday South Korea’s sports world should think about whether factionalism and other irregularities forced short track speed skating star Ahn Hyun-soo to become a naturalized Russian citizen to continue his career.

Ahn, one of the most decorated short trackers ever, became a Russian citizen under the name of Viktor Ahn in December 2011, three years after he suffered a serious knee injury during practice.

Ahn later missed qualifying for the national team for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, further putting his career in jeopardy.

His family claimed that the skater fell victim to fractional feuds within the sport in South Korea and that led to his decision to become a Russian citizen.

In the Winter Olympics under way in Sochi, Ahn won the bronze in the 1,500-meter event while South Korean skaters failed to win a medal.

Despite Ahn’s Russian citizenship, many South Koreans rooted for him during the race as they saw him as a victim of corruption.

“Athlete Ahn Hyun-soo, who became a naturalized Russian citizen, has the best capabilities as a short track athlete but is competing in another country without following his dream in our country,” Park said during a policy briefing by the culture and sports ministry.

“What is the reason? We have to look back on whether it is because of irregularities lying in the sports world, such as factionalism, favoritism and judging corruption,” she said, ordering the ministry to come up with measures to root out sports corruption. (Yonhap)