South Korean Olympic skating champion banned over trouser-pulling

Seoul - South Korean Olympic short track speed skating champion Lim Hyo-jun has been banned from competition for a year for sexually harassing a fellow male athlete, officials said Friday.

Lim, 23, won the gold in the 1500m on home ice at last year's Winter Games in Pyeongchang and also took bronze in the 500m.

But in June he forcibly pulled down the victim's trousers in front of other teammates at the national training centre, a Korea Skating Union official said.

"Lim will be banned from competing in any sporting event until August 7 next year," the official told AFP.

The KSU also suspended four short track speed skaters -- two of them Olympic medallists -- from the national training centre for two months on Friday for "misbehaviour involving drinking", the organisation said in a statement.

The cases are two of the latest in a series of embarrassing off-field incidents in South Korean sports.

The South is a regional sporting power and regularly in the top 10 medal table places at the summer and winter Olympics.

But in an already intensely competitive society, winning is virtually everything in its sports community -- and physical and verbal abuse are rife.

The nation's short track speed skating community in particular has faced several serious abuse scandals in recent years.

In January, double Olympic gold medallist Shim Suk-hee went public with accusations her former coach sexually molested and physically abused her multiple times.

Also earlier this year, a male skater was suspended for a month after secretly getting into the female dorm at the national training centre.