Short Track Speed Skating: Was it a racing incident or deliberate cheating?

After watching the Short Track Speed Skating World Championships 1000m men's race, I was angry and sad.

Contact happens in short track speed skating. I know that.

A skater doesn't deliberately take another out but skating so close and so fast with each other, accidents happen and sometimes a skater is found at fault and penalized (disqualified).

When these incidents happen, fans/commentators will say things like:

  • luck was on his side (or not on his side)
  • that's short track
  • they have to accept it for what it is

I have often said those things but in my opinion, they do not apply this time.

You can see it by clicking here. What do you think?

Sin Da Woon of South Korea had no chance at the overall title, but his teammate did. While Park Se Yoeong sat back in 4th, his teammate (in 3rd) first nudges/pushes Wu Dajing of China aside who was in 2nd place at the time. On the last straightaway, he even more obviously pushes Charles Hamelin aside with all his might (it takes two attempts to finally impede him enough). It's amazing that Charles stayed on his feet and reached the line in second. Wu Dajing who was earlier impeded would finish fourth. Sin Da Woon was disqualified.

In a regular incident when the contact is accidental, the skater at fault would be penalized and the results stand (if in an earlier round, sometimes the impeded skater will still go through to the next round). Sometimes it is luck. Sometimes a skater is in the wrong place at the wrong time or miscalculates their pass. You are taken out or detained and you have to accept the result.

This time is different for me because it was done deliberately to reward a teammate like Hamelin said after the race:

"I'm a little disappointed with only getting the silver," said Hamelin. "I was on my way to a gold medal when the two Koreans teamed up, sacrificing one so the other could win. One pushed me in the last turn and I ended up second."

On the podium, the Korean put the gold medal in front of Hamelin but that's little consolation though.

I am heartbroken to see this happen in an Olympic sport. I am perhaps naive to think that cheating shouldn't happen in Olympic sports. 

I'm not saying that cheating doesn't happen, but you hope that when it does, the International Olympic Committee or Sport Federation will do something about it.

Cheating is not new in short track speed skating. At the 2011 World Team Championships, an American skater tampered with Olivier Jean's skates which affected the team's relay performance. You can read CBC's 2012 article here and a 2013 updated article here.

In that instance, the athlete and the coach were suspended for 2 years from the ISU. I am hoping that the International Skating Union will look at this incident and take action to prevent such blatant cheating from succeeding in the future.