South Korea’s Moon Dae-sung has been suspended as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over alleged plagiarism of his doctoral thesis.
The decision, which also means he has been suspended as a member of the organisation’s Athletes’ Commission, was recommended by the IOC Ethics Commission after Moon’s degree was withdrawn by Seoul’s Kookmin University due to serious plagiarism.
He has previously appealed the University’s decision to the Seoul Northern District Court and the High Court, but both judged that there is no doubt on his severe illegality.
Moon, whose eight-year term as an IOC member is due to end with the Closing Ceremony of this year’s Olympic Games in RIo de Janeiro, is currently awaiting a final verdict from the Supreme Court.
“The Ethics Commission acknowledged the seriousness of the damage to the reputation of the Olympic Movement and the need to take the provisional measure to suspend all the rights, prerogatives and functions linked to Mr Dae-sung Moon’s IOC membership until the Supreme Court of the Republic of Korea has pronounced a final verdict,” the IOC said in a statement.
Moon, the over 80 kilograms taekwondo Olympic gold medallist at Athens 2004, had received a doctorate in August 2007 with a paper entitled the “Effect of Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation on Flexibility and Isokinetic Muscle Strength in Taekwondo Practitioners”.
But in March 2012, it was alleged he had copied large portions of the work written by another researcher.
Kookmin University conducted an investigation and ruled that Moon’s paper “goes beyond what is normally permitted by the academic community” and that it was full of “serious plagiarisms”.
They formally stripped Moon, who had played a leading role in Pyeongchang’s successful bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, of the degree in March 2014.
Moon, 39, appealed on the basis that he had permission to use the work of the fellow researcher and that the decision to strip him of his doctorate was politically motivated.
An investigation into the allegations against Moon was launched by the IOC Ethics Commission soon after the original allegation was made.
But, after repeated attempts to ask Kookmin University for its own findings proved unsuccessful, the case was closed in December 2013 pending further developments.
The IOC Ethics Commission investigation was re-opened following the decision to revoke Moon’s degree, only for it to be suspended again when he launched legal action in South Korea.
In May of last year, Moon and former Organising Committee head Kim Jin-sun were among officials fiercely criticised by a coalition of 50 civic groups for their conduct during preparations for Pyeongchang 2018.
As reported by The Korea Times, a petition accused five people – a group also including Gangwon Province Governor Choi Moon-soon and lawmakers Park Joo-sun and Yeom Dong-yeol – of abusing their authority or neglecting their duties when preparing for the Games, allegedly leading to the wasting of taxpayers’ money and damage to the environment.
The IOC published a statement on its website regarding Moon’s suspension after being contacted by insidethegames.
According to sources of South Korean newspaper The Chosun Ilbo, the IOC wants to avoid any more scandal amid the controversy over allowing Russian athletes to compete at next month’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro despite damning revelations of state-sponsored doping in the country.
Voting is underway for the four places available on the IOC Athletes’ Commission with Claudia Bokel, Alexander Popov and Yumilka Ruiz Luaces, like Moon, also due to end their eight-year terms at the end of Rio 2016.
A total of 23 Olympians are in the running for election with voting scheduled to last until August 17 at the IOC Space in the Rio 2016 Olympic Village, as well as in the hotels of the five football cities – Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Salvador, São Paulo and Manaus.
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.