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Simon Cho admits to tampering with rival’s skates

Oct 5, 2012, 12:59 PM EDT

Simon Cho AP

Short track speed skating world champ Simon Cho announced at a press conference in Salt Lake City Friday that rumors and allegations he was asked to tamper with a rival’s skates last year by suspended coach Jae Su Chun are true.

Cho alleges that Chun asked him to “mess with” a Canadian team member’s skates three times; twice in English, which Cho refused, and then in Korean, which was when the skater felt obligated to say yes because of his cultural connection with his Chun. Both were born in South Korea.

“In Asian culture when an elder asks you to do something very difficult, to deny the request, no matter how ridiculous it might sound at the time… I had a lot of pressure from that,” Cho admitted.

Cho apologized to Oliver Jean and the Canadian team for his actions at the 2011 World Team Championships in Poland, as well as to the speed skating community for his “poor judgment and bad sportsmanship.”

“Although the skate belonged to Olivier Jean, I had no intention to single him out,” Cho confessed in a statement. “It was the biggest mistake of my life and one that I regret with all my heart.”

Cho missed grabbing one of the five men’s spots on the U.S. world cup team Sunday, and afterward said he expects to be suspended for his actions. On Friday he added that he would never again skate for Chun, who has also been accused of “unchecked” physical and verbal abuse by 19 current and former skaters.

“I hope that I can make up for my mistake,” Cho finished. “And continue to skate in the future.”

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