Allegiance for Hire

10ahn-master675Hyun-soo Ahn was one of South Korea’s most decorated short-track speed skaters (5 World Championships and 3 golds at 2006 Olympics), so why did he change his name to Viktor Ahn and is now skating for Russia?

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/10/sports/olympics/ahn-rejected-us-to-skate-for-russia.html?hpw&rref=sports&_r=0

What NY Times failed to understand…  Sports federations in South Korea are like mini-mobs (maybe even worse).  There have been allegations of abuse of power, misappropriation of funds, physical mistreatment of athletes, etc.  I heard rumors that Ahn wasn’t supposed to win his 3rd gold at ’06 Olympics, rather it was supposed to go to one of his teammates so that he too could be exempt from mandatory military service (with mandatory military conscription, you are exempt if you win an Olympic gold).  Instead, Ahn competed like any athlete should, whether Pop Warner or world-class…  For that South Korean Skating Federation full of bureaucrats and fat cats, made Ahn’s life hell and disowned him when he was seriously injured ’08 and missed 2010 winter games.  Now Viktor Ahn is winning medals for Russia at Sochi and could become one of the most decorated short-track speed skaters of all time.  Talk about karma…  Good for Viktor (and 61% of South Koreans surveyed agree)…

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About Richard Lee
Experienced finance and operations professional. Currently partner in five companies, adjunct professor of economics at Columbia College and executive contributor to a small business blog (www.SMBmatters.com); following corporate finance, M&A and management consulting tenures with Orbitz and Diamond Technology Partners; and six years of service with the United States Army.

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