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2014-10-22 16:53
By Jung Min-ho

What more does the International Olympic Committee (IOC) need in order to make its position clear regarding one of its members, Moon Dae-sung, a former taekwondo practitioner whose doctorate thesis was proven to have been produced through plagiarism?

Apparently, a lot more than a declaration by Kookmin University — where Moon acquired the doctorate — that stated in February that he was guilty of plagiarism, and a court ruling last week that ruled in favor of the school in a lawsuit filed by the member of the National Assembly who belongs to the ruling Saenuri Party.

“We understand that Moon has appealed the decision. Until there is a ruling, we have no further comment to make,” IOC spokesman Andrew Mitchell told The Korea Times, Monday.

Asked on Tuesday an employee of the appeals court said that Moon hadn’t filed an appeal, although he still has two weeks to do so.

Last week, Seoul Northern District Court dismissed a suit filed by Moon in March asking for the nullification of Kookmin University’s decision to cancel his Ph.D.

Aides to Moon refused to comment on the subject of an appeal.

Obviously, the IOC wants to let Moon finish his term, which is scheduled to end in 2016.

The risk it is taking to protect one of its own members is both conspicuous and ridiculous because Moon has been found to have committed a serious act of plagiarism. If the IOC continues to avoid stating a clear-cut position on the matter, it will be tantamount to endorsing Moon’s actions, indeed being an accomplice of sorts to them.

Such behavior can only fuel further suspicion.

After the issue of Moon’s came to the fore in 2012, the IOC conducted its own investigation into Moon and his academic credentials, but shut this down in December 2013, saying that it hadn’t received a ruling from Kookmin.

In April, The Korea Times reported that Kookmin had officially informed the IOC that he obtained his Ph.D from the school fraudulently. The school revoked the degree after finding “serious” examples of plagiarism in his work.

An official at Kookmin said that the school sent the panel’s report to the IOC on March 27 by express mail.

But the IOC still did nothing until Moon filed a lawsuit in the middle of the month appealing the decision in what appeared to be an apparent stalling tactic.

Is this part of a policy of transparency promoted by IOC President Thomas Bach? Even FIFA could have done a better job.

Moon received his doctorate in August 2007 after submitting a paper titled: “The Effect of Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation on Flexibility and Isokinetic Muscle Strength in Taekwondo Practitioners.”

This is not the first case of plagiarism involving an IOC member.

Pal Schmitt, a double Olympic fencing gold medalist and IOC member since 1983, was reprimanded by the committee’s ethics commission after Semmelweis University found that his thesis had been plagiarized and revoked his doctorate in 2012.

This scandal eventually forced Schmitt to step down as president of Hungary. But he remained a member of the IOC, even after the organization decided to “reprimand” him.

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