Speed skating-Olympic medallist gets 18-month competition ban for post-party car prang

FILE PHOTO: ISU Speed Skating World Cup - Men's 1500m - Hamar, Norway - February 3, 2019 - Kim Min-seok of South Korea in action. NTB Scanpix/Terje Bendiksby via REUTERS

(Reuters) - Olympic speed skater Kim Min-seok has been handed a lengthy ban from competition by the Korea Skating Union (KSU) after pranging his car after a party at the national training centre south of Seoul.

The 23-year-old crashed his car into a barrier between the road and pavement in July while giving three fellow skaters a lift back to their dormitory from a birthday party at the centre, Yonhap news agency reported.

South Korean Kim, a bronze medallist in the 1500 metres at the last two Winter Games and a silver medallist in the team pursuit in Pyeongchang four years ago, was banned from competing for 18 months.

The length of the ban means Kim will be available to race at the 2026 Olympics in Milan-Cortina.

"For an athlete, being banned for a year and a half can be career threatening," said Kim Seong-cheol, the head of the KSU's disciplinary committee.

"However, with Kim Min-seok, we did consider his track record of winning Olympic medals."

The head coach of the national speed skating team, Kim Jin-su, was suspended for a year for a failing to oversee the athletes in his charge properly.

Chung Jae-woong received a one-year ban for having driven the car earlier while under the influence of alcohol, but his brother Chung Jae-won, who won the team pursuit silver with Kim in Pyeongchang, was suspended for only two months.

"He didn't remember which car he rode back to the dorm in," Kim Seong-cheol added.

The car was driven inside the training centre and none of the four faces criminal charges.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Nick Macfie)

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