North Korean Doping Medalist in Danger?

North Korea is likely to severely punish one of its athletes after he tested positive for prohibited drugs at the Beijing Olympics and was stripped of the medals that he had earned.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced publicly on the 15th that North Korean shooter Kim Jong Su has been stripped of his silver and bronze medals, which he won in the 2008 Beijing Olympics men’s 10m pistol and 50m air pistol respectively, after he tested positive for the banned beta-blocker propranolol.

A Daily NK’s reporter met with an affiliate from the North Korean economic department after the International Olympic committee’s announcement in Shenyang, China. He emphasized that “Kim humiliated the country in the Olympics. It is a serious problem that we cannot overlook in the current atmosphere. Even the authorities are outraged by this sudden drug problem.”

The reporter asked the question if Kim Jong Il has mentioned this issue, to which the affiliate replied “I am not sure about that, but North Korea is a target for a lot of criticism from the outside world related to counterfeiting and drugs. From this scandal, we have earned more negativity.”

Another inside source from North Korea says “If you humiliate the country like Kim Jong Su did, you will be secretly dragged somewhere and suffer. Defectors in China who have heard the news say that the North Korean authorities will deal out a severe punishment.”

When Kim Jong Su returns to North Korea, he will receive disciplinary punishment from the Korean Physical Culture and Sports Guidance Committee, the highest organization in the field of the sports. However, there is a high possibility of punishments such as imprisonment and labor training.

Defectors say that the North Korean soccer players who reached the World Cup quarterfinal game in 1966 were placed in political prison camps, for their questionable activities abroad, as soon as they returned to North Korea. Also, when the North Korean national soccer team was defeated in the 1994 World Cup, Kim Jong Il ordered “Do not let them go abroad for years.”

Internationally, if an athlete is caught using prohibited drugs, his previous records will be thrown out and he will not be able to compete in international competition. Giving a judiciary punishment in a country for a case dealing with prohibited drug-usage is rare.

Kim, who is thus the first North Korean Olympic medalist caught for using prohibited drugs in this Olympics, is from the Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports, and is also known as the Bronze medalist in the male 50m pistol shooting at the 2004 Athens Olympics.