Bans on South Korean badminton players reduced to six months

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- The four South Korean badminton players who purposely tried to lose their last group matches at the London Olympics had their bans reduced to six months on Wednesday.

Korean badminton association officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the decision.

The association's disciplinary committee had earlier proposed banning the two women's doubles pairs from international and domestic play for two years after they were ejected from the Olympics for trying to deliberately lose in order to manipulate the knockout rounds. The players appealed for leniency.

The punishment was lowered to six months Wednesday because the original penalty was too harsh, the officials said.

The badminton association is to report its decision to the Korean Olympic Committee, the officials said.

The players' two coaches are barred from working for the national team for four years, according to an association statement. The disciplinary committee had previously proposed expelling them from the association, which would have meant a ban from any formal badminton-related jobs.

Two other doubles teams, one each from China and Indonesia, also were kicked out of the Olympics for trying to lose matches.

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