LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Triathlon’s governing body has joined an investigation into the death of a South Korean competitor who was reportedly subjected to years of physical and mental abuse.
“World Triathlon is deeply saddened and shocked to hear of the death of … Choi Suk-hyeon who, according to media reports, ‘took her own life after enduring years of abuse,’” the body said in a statement on Thursday.
“The World Triathlon safeguarding and anti-harassment group has also contacted the Korean federation to make sure that while the investigation is carried out, all Korean triathletes are protected and safe.”
The body has asked the South Korean Triathlon Federation and the South Korean Sports and Olympic Committee to share information.
Choi, who was 22, died last Friday. She was first picked in the national team in 2015, while still in high school. Her last major race was in October, when she finished the South Korean championship in 14th place.
The Korea Herald said on Thursday that Choi’s family said she filed criminal complaints in February against her coach, doctor and teammates on the Gyeongju city team. The Daegu District Prosecutors’ Office was investigating her death and claims.
She gave the same report in April to the national federation and Olympic committee. The family said Choi was frustrated by the lack of action.
Federation president Park Suk-won said in a statement they were “taking this case very seriously.”
The Olympic committee said it sent an inspector in April to check Choi’s claims.
Five public petitions on the website of the South Korean president’s office to look into the cause of Choi’s death had drawn more than 58,000 signatures on Thursday in less than 24 hours.
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