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Olympic champion banned for criticism
Latest Updated by 2007-03-05 15:59:41
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Olympic champion speed skater Wang Meng has been banned from competing at the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships and World Team Championships later this month.

The punishment, announced on Saturday by the Winter Sports Administrative Center, came in response to Wang's attack on new team coach Li Yan during the Asian Winter Games in January.

"Wang Meng's improper comments about the team's head coach during the Asian Games had a negative effect on the whole team. The center has asked her to reflect deeply on the mistakes and make a written apology," said a statement from the Center.

Wang threatened to quit the team after winning a bronze in the women's short track 1,500m, blaming Li for a lack of race tactics.

"I will apply for training back in my local team after the Winter Asiad, since the arrangements of the coach are not suitable for me," she said at the time.

Li was coach of American short track star Apolo Anton Ohno, and she began working with the team last May.

"I have to pay for my unwise behavior during the Asian Games. It was irresponsible to make such remarks. My mistakes tarnished the image of the team. I'm so sorry. I accept the punishment imposed on me," said Wang in her apology.

"I will learn lessons from the mistake and work even harder in the future."

It has not been determined when the 21-year-old will return to the national team.

"She is still young and has a great future," said coach Li. "The target of my coming to coach China is the 2010 Winter Olympics. Wang's absence will give more opportunities to other teenager skaters."

The ban on Wang, the 500m short track speed skating gold medalist at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympic Games and top skater on the team, is a blow to China's prospects at the Worlds.

But officials insist it is a moderate punishment.

"I don't think it is a harsh punishment," said Tong Lixin, director of the Center's Short Track Speed Skating Department.

"The center took proper measures to deal with the problem. I hope Wang will grow up after the punishment and achieve better results in the future."

China will send five men and women skaters to the World Championships, which take place in Italy from March 16-18, and World Team Championships in Hungary from 25-26.

Editor: Donald

By: Source:China Daily Website
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