A gold-medal-winning Chinese speed skater was disqualified from a key race, days after accusations of judging bias toward Chinese racers

Ren Ziwei. Getty/Anne-Christine Poujoulat

The gold-medal-winning speed skater Ren Ziwei, one of China’s biggest stars at the Beijing Games, was disqualified from the final of the men’s 1,500-meter short-track race, just days after winning gold in contentious circumstances in another race, according to Insider.

The decisions allowed two Chinese skaters, Li Wenlong and Akar Furkan, to advance to the final, in which Ren finished first and Li second following Liu’s disqualification.

South Korea lodged a complaint with the International Skating Union over the decision. It was rejected, Fox Sports reported.

On Tuesday, the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee said it planned to file an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport “to formalize the injustice of this decision.”

“We plan to do our best to prevent injustice from happening to our athletes in the international ice skating and sporting communities,” the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee said in a statement, according to Inside the Games.

Ren beat Hungary’s Shaolin Sándor Liu in the final of the men’s 1,000-meter short-track event on Monday, a race Liu initially won before he was given two penalties.

Liu was penalized for changing lanes and hitting Ren and using his left hand to obstruct Ren.

Ren, who appeared to retaliate by shoving Liu with both hands, was not punished and was awarded the gold medal.

On Wednesday, the shoe was on the other foot for the Chinese star as he was kicked out during the semifinal of the 1,500-meter short-track race.

The 24-year-old was penalized for an arm block, which paved the way for Hwang Dae-heon to win in the final and claim South Korea’s first gold medal of the games. 

Ren’s win in the 1,000-meter race, as well as several other unusual judging decisions, had led some speed skaters to question the neutrality of the judges at the track.

South Korea’s Kwak Yoon-gy spoke out after Saturday’s mixed team relay, in which China survived a semifinal race only after the disqualification of the Russian Olympic Committee and the US.

Both teams had finished ahead of the host nation after a video review. The ROC earned a penalty for “causing obstruction,” while the US was docked for “blocking.”

China went on to win gold in the final.

“Looking at the way China won the gold medal, I felt bad that my younger teammates had to watch something like that,” Kwak said. “I thought to myself, ‘Is this really what winning a gold medal is all about?’ Things all just felt very hollow.”

In Monday’s men’s 1,000-meter semifinals, Hwang, the world-record holder, and Lee June-seo, both of South Korea, were disqualified for illegal late passing and lane changing, respectively.


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