May 2, 2014 (ISN) – An International Olympic Committee (IOC) Ethics Commission investigation into claims South Korean Athletes’ Commission member Moon Dae-sung plagiarised his doctoral thesis has been put on hold pending the outcome of an appeal.
Moon, winner of a taekwondo gold medal at Athens 2004, was first accused in April 2012 of plagiarising much of a 2007 psychology doctorate thesis at Kookmin University.
An investigation into the allegations was launched by the IOC Ethics Commission soon after but, after repeated attempts to ask the University for its own findings proved unsuccessful, in December 2013 the case was closed pending further developments.
But the University Committee then found in March that large proportions of the thesis were identical to work by another scholar and the 37-year-old was duly stripped of his degree.
The IOC Ethics Commission investigation was also re-opened.
But because Moon has decided to appeal the University Committee decision, the IOC has now confirmed they are delaying their investigation once again, with the timetable of the university appeals process yet to be revealed.
“Because Mr Moon has appealed to the court [against] the decision, we have to wait until the appeal is finished,” Robert Roxburgh, head of Olympic Games communications, told The Korea Times.
“I don’t know how long it takes in Korea, but we have to wait before we do anything else with it.”
Moon has claimed the findings are “politically motivated and strongly biased” as he vows to show his fighting qualities in proving his innocence.
But due to the apparent conclusiveness of the evidence, others think Moon’s attempt to appeal the verdict is a stalling tactic, as he bids to keep his IOC membership, as well as his position in the South Korean National Assembly, until his terms end in 2016.
When the case first broke in 2012, Moon resigned his party membership of the ruling Saenuri Party, barely a week after being appointed a member of the National Assembly, before rejoining the party in February 2014 shortly before the investigation was completed.
The case bears similarities with a similar scandal in the IOC involving Hungary’s Pal Schmitt in 2012.
On that occasion Schmitt, a double Olympic fencing gold medallist and IOC member since 1983, was reprimanded by the Ethics Commission after a panel at Semmelweis University found his thesis had been plagiarised and revoked his academic title.
The scandal also forced Schmitt to step down as President of Hungary.