Sat, Jul 23, 2016 - Page 16 News List

Taekwondo legend Chu Mu-yen fights back after scandal

AFP, TAIPEI

Taiwanese taekwondo Olympic gold medalist Chu Mu-yen trains in Kaohsiung on July 30, 2008.

Photo: AFP

He was hailed as the “Warrior God” and won Taiwan’s only men’s Olympic gold, but taekwondo hero Chu Mu-yen has had to battle back from lurid scandals since his famous victory.

Fans wept with emotion when Chu took the 2004 title in Athens as a 22-year-old, alongside female team counterpart Chen Shih-hsin, who won Taiwan’s first female gold.

However, a year later he had a spectacular fall from grace over an Internet sex scam.

Chu, who was dating a fellow taekwondo player at the time, was blackmailed by a fraud ring which claimed he arranged paid-for sex services. The Olympian admitted that he had spoken to a woman in an Internet chat room, but said he had turned down sex services.

Nevertheless, he handed over US$30,000 to the fraudsters, saying it was out of fear for his and his family’s safety.

Eventually Chu went to police when the fraud ring kept demanding more money. As a result, five people were jailed.

After the scandal, Chu took a disappointing bronze at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where he had been tipped for gold, and retired from competition.

After turning to coaching, Chu courted controversy again in 2012 when he was prevented from standing as a candidate for the International Olympic Committee athletes’ commission after what officials termed “unauthorized” campaigning for the position during the London Olympics.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected his appeal, but said his behavior was “more due to excessive zeal rather than a desire to cheat.”

Despite the setbacks, Chu might taste Olympic glory again, as he is now part of Taiwan’s national taekwondo coaching team and is likely to travel to Rio.

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