Controversy over athletes' false community service as an alternative to active military duty has escalated Monday as a local cable news channel reported judoka An Ba-ul, an Olympic silver medalist, also fabricated his records.
Winners of any Olympic medals and Asian Games gold medals are exempted from mandatory military service and required to conduct 544 hours of sports-related community service over 34 months.
Earlier this month, football player Jang Hyun-soo was permanently banned from the national team and slapped with a 30 million won ($26,640) fine by the Korea Football Association after he was found to have doctored his community service records.
On Monday, the news channel YTN reported some of An's community service records submitted to the Korea Sports Promotion Foundation were also fabricated. According to the news channel, An reported that he had completed 300 hours of community service between November 2016 and July 2018.
An, 24, took silver in the men's 66-kilogram division judo competition at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. He was enlisted as military sports personnel later and started his community service from November 2016.
According to YTN, An reported that he had completed community service at his alma mater on a day that he was training at the national training center in Jincheon, some 90 kilometers south of Seoul.
"I did speak with An, and it looks like he wasn't able to do the paperwork thoroughly because of his training," Sun Chan-jong, An's coach and a director at the Korea Judo Association, said. "It's not that An did it on purpose, but it appears that he took it too easy on the administrative work."
Sun added that An is an exemplary athlete who did community service even before he was enlisted as sports personnel.
An, who also won gold at the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games, has yet to speak out on his community service controversy.
Able-bodied South Korean men are required to serve in the military for about two years. By law, the medalists are entitled to exemption in recognition of their contribution to the country's reputation and prestige.
They need to complete basic military training, which can take up to 60 days, as well as 544 hours of sports-related community service over 34 months. The law on community service was designated in July 2015.
The KJA said it decided to kick out An from the national training center in Jincheon, adding that he will also not represent South Korea at the Grand Slam event in Osaka, Japan, this week. The KJA said it will also hold a disciplinary committee meeting to discuss the punishment on An. (Yonhap)