SPORTS

Bad Badminton: Normally gentle sport providing scandalous headlines in London

08/02/2012 06:33 EDT | Updated 10/02/2012 05:12 EDT
LONDON - It seems every Olympics has its dark side, from the Ben Johnson steroid scandal in Seoul to the figure skating judging controversy in Salt Lake City.

So far in London, the biggest scandal has been in badminton of all things.

The normally well-mannered racket sport had beet hit by a match- fixing scandal, where eight women's doubles players were disqualified when it was determined they performed poorly on purpose to get a more favourable seed into the quarter-finals.

On Thursday, Olympic officials demanded a deeper investigation into the scandal as the coach of the Chinese team took the blame for one of the thrown matches.

The International Olympic Committee wants team coaches, trainers or officials of the four doubles pairs to be punished if they encouraged or ordered the eight now-disqualified players to lose intentionally.

The doubles teams — the top-seeded pair from China, two pairs from South Korea and one from Indonesia — were also set to have their accreditations removed by their national Olympic bodies and sent home.

"We're making sure that at this stage that they consider also the entourage, in this case the coaches, just to make sure it isn't just the athletes who are punished for this," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. "We will ask them if they are looking at it. ... We have to leave them to take their decision. We'll be following what they do and what they say."

The scandal worked in favour of Canada's women's doubles team. Alex Bruce and Michelle Li of Toronto were bumped into the semifinal, where they lost to a Japanese team on Thursday. They still have a chance to win a medal in the bronze final on Saturday.

The badminton players weren't the only ones acting up in London. Australia team officials revealed Thursday that rower Josh Booth had been detained by police for allegedly causing damage to a storefront in an alcohol-related incident.

Australian team chief Nick Green said the 21-year-old Booth fainted while at the police station and was taken to a hospital.

He was released a short time later and was not charged by police in the incident that occurred about 12 hours after he competed in the men's eight.

"We understand there was alcohol involved," said Green, who received a phone call from police at 3 a.m. at the athletes village.

"No charges have been laid. He has to go back to the police station tomorrow where the police will ... investigate the matter and make some outcomes out of those investigations. We'll let the investigation unfold."

The incident was salt in the wound to Australia's disappointing performance so far in the Games. Looking for a top five finish in both overall and gold medals, the Aussies find themselves with just one gold and 11 total medals.

Eight of the medals have come in the pool where Australia is usually strong, but they are nowhere near the dominance of American swimmers.

Michael Phelps put the cap on another amazing day for America's swim team, winning his 20th Olympic medal by taking gold in the men's 200-metre individual medley.

The U.S won five swimming medals on Thursday. Three of them were gold, including a world-record swim from Rebecca Soni in the women's 200 breaststroke. The U.S. has won 23 swimming medals overall, including 11 gold.

The Americans lead the overall medal standings with 37 (18 gold, nine silver, 10 bronze). China is second with 34 (18 gold, 11 silver, five bronze) and Japan third with 19 (two gold, six silver, 11 bronze).

Canada is 11th with seven medals (two silver, five bronze) after winning silver in women's eight rowing on Thursday.

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