Figure skater Lee Hae-in on 3-year suspension over sexual harassment dispute

Figure skating star Lee Hae-in responds to fans' cheers after completing her women's single free skating performance at the 2023 ISU World Figure Skating Championships at Saitama Super Arena in Japan.  Reuters -Yonhap

a female national figure skater, has been identified as the athlete who received a 3-year suspension for drinking alcohol and allegedly sexually harassing a minor teammate during overseas training.

While she deeply regrets the drinking, she clarified that the victim was her boyfriend and denied the sexual harassment allegations.

Lee apologized on her social media, saying, “Drinking alcohol was absolutely wrong, and I am deeply reflecting on my actions.”

However, she firmly denied allegations of sexual harassment.

“The victim was my boyfriend when we were in high school. We broke up due to parental objection, but we reunited during this training camp.”

She added, “I thought it was just playful behavior or expressions of affection between lovers, and I never imagined it would lead to such a misunderstanding.”

Lee’s lawyer reportedly said that the couple had kept their relationship secret this time due to opposition from her family. The lawyer 안전 explained that their behavior might have seemed strange to those unaware of their relationship, leading to the sexual harassment controversy.

Because their relationship was secret, they did not disclose it during the initial investigation by the Korean Skating Union.

According to the Korea Skating Union, during the joint national team training camp in Varese, Italy, from May 15 to 28, Lee drank alcohol in her room with fellow skater A.

At that time, a minor male teammate, B, was also present. Lee allegedly engaged in behavior that made B uncomfortable. The union imposed a 3-year suspension on Lee and a 1-year suspension on A.

B, who had entered the women’s dormitory, received a reprimand for violating training guidelines.

Lee, considered the “post-Kim Yuna” and a silver medalist at last year’s World Championships, faces the risk of missing the 2026 Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo Winter Olympics due to the suspension.

She has appealed the decision to the Korea Sports Council, the higher body of the skating union.

Her lawyer said, “We will fully explain that it was light physical contact in a romantic relationship and seek leniency for Lee Hae-in’s mistakes.”

This is not the first sexual scandal in Korean skating. In 2019, Olympic short track gold medalist Shim Suk-hee revealed years of sexual abuse and rape by her coach, Jo Jae-beom, sparking the #Me Too movement in the skating community.

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