08/02/2012 07:13 EDT | Updated 10/02/2012 05:12 EDT

IOC tells national committees to investigate coaches, officials in badminton scandal

LONDON - The IOC is urging the Chinese, South Korean and Indonesian national Olympic committees to investigate the coaches of the badminton players who were disqualified for trying to lose matches.

"We have asked the NOCs to look into the entourage issue to see if there are questions to be answered there," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said Thursday.

The International Olympic Committee wants team coaches, trainers or officials to be punished if they encouraged or ordered the players to lose deliberately.

Four women's doubles teams were kicked out of the competition Wednesday after playing badly to secure a more favourable draw in the next round — conduct that strikes at the heart of Olympic rules on fair play and sportsmanship.

Adams said the three national committees are now in the process of expelling the players from the games completely — taking away their accreditations, removing them from the athletes village and sending them 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," Adams said. "We will ask them if they are looking at it."

The doubles teams — the top-seeded pair from China, two pairs from South Korea and one from Indonesia — deliberately conceded points in an apparent attempt to lose their round-robin matches so they would face easier opposition in the knockout stage.

"We're keen to make sure that on the ground it wasn't just the athletes that were being punished, and that if there are some people to be looked into then the national Olympic committees will do that," Adams said. "We have to leave them to take their decision. We'll be following what they do and what they say."

If the IOC isn't satisfied, it could intervene to take its own disciplinary action.

"The NOCs are now making sure those athletes are leaving the village and are on their way home," Adams said. "The games are about good sporting experience and that's what we're encouraging. When that doesn't happen we need to take action.

"Is the line drawn under it? I hope in this case, yes. The clear message is: if this happens again then action will be taken."

Chinese badminton coach Li Yongbo has apologized and accepted blame for the conduct of his doubles teams.

"As the head coach, I owe the fans and the Chinese an apology," the official Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted Li as saying. "Chinese players failed to demonstrate their fighting spirit of the national team. It's me to blame."


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