Chinese pressure forced Taiwanese taekwondo athlete Yang Shu-chun (楊淑君) to withdraw an appeal against her disqualification at the Asian Games last year from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator said yesterday.
With the Chinese Taipei Taekwondo Association (CTTA) and the Sports Affairs Council (SAC) embroiled in allegations that they threatened Yang to get her to withdraw the appeal, DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) yesterday added that he suspected they were under the influence of strong Chinese pressure.
Citing a letter to former Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee chairman Chang Feng-shu (張豐緒) obtained by the DPP, Gao said senior Chinese sports official Wei Jizhong (魏紀中), president of the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), advised Taiwan to “weigh its options” in the appeal because he has many experienced “lawyer friends” in Lausanne, Switzerland.
“What are your chances of winning the case against us?” Wei asked in the letter.
Gao’s allegations came after former CTTA chairman Chen Chien-ping (陳建平) was quoted as saying in the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) on Monday that Yang was forced to drop the appeal and sign a letter of proxy enabling the CTTA to handle the lawsuit on her behalf under threat from current CTTA chairman Angus Hsu (許安進).
DPP spokesman Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said on that same day that Hsu threatened Yang by saying that her place on the Olympic taekwondo team, the position of her boyfriend and coach Liu Tsung-ta (劉聰達), as well as her training expenses, would all be at stake.
Hsu has denied the accusations, while SAC deputy chairman Steven Chen (陳士魁) said on Monday that the council neither recognized the letter of proxy nor held the view that Yang has been threatened by Hsu.
Gao yesterday said the SAC was aware of the letter from Wei, but had done nothing to help Yang.
DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) had promised to offer Yang full support in her effort to “clear her name” after being disqualified.
“It is time for them to speak out,” Tsai said. “And if Yang was threatened, the judiciary should launch an investigation into the matter.”
In response, Steven Chen said the latest accusations were a “ridiculous association” between two separate events.
Steven Chen said he knew Chang and Wei had exchanged opinions over Yang’s case in December last year, when the SAC was in the process of helping Yang file lawsuits against the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), the Guangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee and the Asian Taekwondo Union.
“Chang relayed to us what Wei thought about the case, including [his advice to] not sue the OCA,” Chen said. “However, that was Wei’s opinion. We filed the lawsuits anyway.”
Chang said he had never seen the letter that Gao mentioned in the press conference.
Steven Chen said the council would have dropped the lawsuits in January or February if it really had no intention of continuing the legal process, adding that it did not have to wait until last month to make that announcement.
At a separate setting yesterday, Wu denied that Yang had been forced to withdraw the lawsuit.
Wu said he had asked Sports Affairs Council Minister Tai Hsia-ling (戴遐齡) to relay his opinions on this case to Yang upon learning from the media that Yang intended to withdraw the lawsuit.