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Taekwondo Organization Catches USOC Ire

August 19, 2003

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) _ A national taekwondo organization is in danger of losing membership with the U.S. Olympic Committee and the ability to send athletes to the 2004 Summer Games in Athens.

A USOC committee found the U.S. Taekwondo Union is ``not in compliance with the requirements for membership as an Olympic Sports Organization or recognition as an NGB (national governing body).″

In an Aug. 1 letter to USTU executive director Bruce Harris, USOC membership and credentials committee chair Thomas Satrom said his committee is prepared to recommend at the USOC’s Oct. 17-19 board meeting the USTU’s charter be revoked for a number of problems including financial irregularities.

USOC officials and three officials with the USTU, including Harris, did not return calls Tuesday from The Associated Press. The letter was first reported in The Gazette of Colorado Springs.

Even if the USTU loses USOC membership, athletes like 2000 Olympic gold medalist Steven Lopez are still eligible for the Athens Games. USOC officials also could take over the selection of the U.S. Olympic taekwondo team. Taekwondo became a medal sport in 2000.

According to Satrom’s letter, problems are widespread in the USTU. He said a review found ``complete disarray of financial records″ at the USTU and the ``questionable use of funds (such as providing loans to employees, payment of questionable volunteer expenses and chartering aircraft to deliver medals from Korea).″

In 1997, the USOC ordered the USTU to repay $265,346 in misspent USOC grants, and refused to upgrade it to Olympic status for funding purposes at the time because of alleged financial irregularities and bad management.

Satrom’s letter also suggested there was ``an allegiance to Korea to the detriment of U.S. programs and the interests of U.S. athletes.″

Taekwondo is a Korean martial art. Seoul is also home to the sport’s international federation, the World Taekwondo Federation.

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On the Net:

USOC: http://www.usoc.org

USTU: http://www.ustu.com

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