KUALA LUMPUR, June 21 ― The national diving team’s reputation has taken another beating after videos leaked online of seven athletes partying and consuming alcohol during Chinese New Year last February.
The Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (ASUM) yesterday confirmed that three Podium Programme divers — Pandelela Rinong, Nur Dhabitah Sabri and Chew Yiwei — as well as four juniors — Jellson Jabillin, Gabriel Gilbert Daim and Kimberly Bong and Tracy Vivian Tukiet — were involved in the episode.
This is the second major issue to mar the diving team after former coach Huang Qiang was alleged to have raped a national diver. The former Chinese national diving coach was acquitted of rape charges in April.
The videos of the diving athletes partying were leaked under a fake Facebook account, which have been removed.
Led by Yiwei, the diving squad begged for forgiveness from the public and vowed not to repeat their mistakes.
“We realise the magnitude of our mistake and we beg forgiveness from everyone,” said Yiwei, acting as spokesman for the team.
“We realise there was error of judgement on our part and and be more responsible with our actions. We should also be more careful with whom we trust.”
There have been suspicions of an attempt to sabotage the diving team as the videos were released several months after they were shot, but Yiwei concluded that they cannot run away from their actions.
“I do not know who shot the video and I cannot speculate on anyone. We made a mistake and we misbehaved for that we must be held responsible,” added Yiwei.
“We cannot control what others are capable of doing doing but we can control our actions and realise our responsibilities as a professional athlete. We must learn from it.
“As for any internal problems I don’t want speculate on foul play. We stand as a family.”
Meanwhile, senior diver Cheong Jun Hoong, who was not involved in the incident, has also pleaded for forgiveness for her teammates since they have admitted their mistakes and expressed regret.
Podium Program director Tim Newenham hinted that further action could be taken based on the ASUM disciplinary committee’s findings.
“Is someone out to hurt them? We don’t know. The leak could have come from anywhere and may have been unintentionally leaked,” said Newenham.
“If we get the facts from the committee, the punishment could be from complete exoneration right or removal of programs.
“The videos are there; the athletes have admitted to it and they (ASUM) will decide if further sanctions are needed.”