Olympic body urges probe into weightlifting scandal
The Cameroon-born Daniel Koum is 'shocked and deeply offended' by the allegations that he accepted money to appear in a qualifying event.
Fri, Jun 15, 2012 at 03:23 AM
HEAVY MONEY: Weightlifter Daniel Koum. No official charges have been leveled toward Koum by the Australian Olympic Committee or the Australian Weightlifting Foundation. (Photo: Sam Yeh/AFP)
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) on June 15 called for an independent investigation into allegations that a weightlifter demanded cash to compete at a qualifying event.
The Australian Weightlifting Foundation (AWF) has claimed that Daniel Koum, 26, insisted on a Aus$5,000 ($5,000) cash payment to perform at an event in Samoa — an allegation the athlete strongly denies.
"The AOC has urged the AWF provide Mr Koum with an opportunity to respond to the allegations and has encouraged the establishment of an independent body to consider this matter on behalf of the AWF," the Olympic committee said.
Had any Australian male athlete failed to compete in Samoa it would have made it impossible for the team to finish among the top five nations, meaning Australia would have been unable to send a male lifter to the London Olympics.
Koum, in a statement on his website, said he had been "shocked and deeply offended" at the claims which have rocked the sport.
"I deny absolutely any allegation or suggestion of impropriety on my part arising from my participation in the Oceania weightlifting championships which took place in Apia, Samoa on 6 June 2012," he said.
"At no time has anyone from the AWF ever contacted me directly with respect to these allegations, which are without foundation.
"The first time I became aware of these allegations is when I heard and read about them in the media."
Cameroon-born Koum, whose efforts in Samoa helped Australia secure the passage of one yet-to-be-nominated male weightlifter to the Games, said he had not been charged with any misconduct offense and would assist any inquiry.
"Should any allegations of impropriety ever be formally brought against me by the AWF or the AOC, they will be met with unyielding and relentless opposition by me and my lawyers," he added.
He said he would now focus on competing at the final Australian qualifying event in Brisbane this weekend to "pursue my dreams of being selected to represent my new home, Australia, at the London 2012 Olympic Games."
The AOC said should Koum win nomination to the Olympics, he would not be confirmed to go until the AWF completed its probe and had "dealt with the matter."
Copyright 2012 AFP Global Edition