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Oz weightlifter Koum may face 'extortion' charges if cash demand allegations proven

June 14, 2012 - Sydney

Australian weightlifter Daniel Koum could face extortion charges if the allegation of a 5000 dollar cash demand to the Australian Weightlifting Federation is proved.

Koum, 26, allegedly threatened to destroy the Olympic hopes of his teammates unless he was paid 5000 dollars only minutes before he was due to compete in the Oceania Weightlifting Championships in Samoa last week, and said he would to pull out of the competition.

However, the Australian weightlifter said he was "shocked" at the claims against him, but did not deny he had asked for the cash to complete his lifts during last week's Oceania Championships in Samoa.

"I've put all my financial money to represent this country and they're accusing me for [asking for] 5000 dollars? With past competitions, even I just went to represent Australia in the world championships and it cost me more than 10,000 dollars. I'm very disappointed," he said.

According to Sydney Morning Herald, if Koum had walked away from the tournament, it would have cost Australia its only place in the male lifting events at the London Games.

The Australian Olympic Committee announced yesterday that it would conduct an investigation into the alleged incident, while athletes still in Games contention expressed their dismay over Koum's alleged threat.

Koum has still entered in the final Olympic qualifying event in Brisbane on Saturday, though sources in the sport say he is unlikely to be allowed to compete.

Australia needed to finish in the top five in Samoa to guarantee a place for one male lifter in London, with Koum's lifts vital to earning that position.

His teammate, Commonwealth Games gold medallist and London hopeful, Damon Kelly, said he felt ill when informed of what had allegedly transpired.


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