Steven Lopez

AP

Steven Lopez, Olympic taekwondo champion, removed from banned list

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DENVER (AP) — Olympic taekwondo champion Steven Lopez won arbitration Monday in a sexual-misconduct case and had his name removed from the U.S. Center for SafeSport’s banned list.

Lopez was permanently banned in September for sexual misconduct involving a minor. He has denied the allegations.

This marks the first case to be overturned by arbitration in the 21-month history of the center. SafeSport spokesman Dan Hill said arbitration is part of the center’s “code that is built on fairness and has a process for both parties.”

Lopez’s brother and coach, Jean Lopez, remains on the interim restricted list.

The Lopezes are named as defendants in a sex-trafficking lawsuit filed against the SafeSport center, the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Taekwondo.

The lawsuit alleges the organizations were long aware that the Lopezes were sexual predators but kept sending young women with them to competitions and practices.

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Steven Lopez, Olympic taekwondo champion, banned permanently

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DENVER (AP) — The U.S. Center for SafeSport has permanently banned two-time Olympic taekwondo champion Steven Lopez for sexual misconduct involving a minor.

The center has been investigating Lopez for about four months and made his ban permanent Thursday night. He can still appeal.

He was suspended in May, a few days after four women filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing USA Taekwondo and the U.S. Olympic Committee of sex trafficking.

The lawsuit alleges the organizations were long aware that Lopez and his brother, Jean, were sexual predators, but kept sending young women with them to competitions and practices. The plaintiffs have since added the U.S. Center for SafeSport as a defendant.

Jean Lopez has also been banned on an interim basis.

Steven Lopez is the most decorated taekwondo athlete in history with five world titles and three Olympic medals.

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U.S. Olympic taekwondo gold medalist banned amid investigation

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Steven Lopez, the only U.S. Olympic taekwondo champion, was given an interim suspension Monday after allegations of decades of sexual misconduct and an investigation that reportedly began three years ago.

Four women filed a lawsuit last week alleging that Lopez and his older brother and coach, Jean, committed sexual abuse against them. They also sued the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Taekwondo for allowing the abuse.

Lopez was suspended for “allegations of misconduct,” according to the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which responds to reports of sexual misconduct within the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movements.

USA Taekwondo said Lopez is suspended “pending further proceedings.”

Last June, Lopez said he never committed sexual assault or inappropriate behavior with a woman, according to USA Todaywhich reported USA Taekwondo began investigating claims against the Lopezes three years ago after women said the brothers sexually assaulted them.

USA Taekwondo consulted with the USOC and agreed to halt the probe before the Rio Olympics, according to USA Today. Lopez competed in his fifth Olympics in Rio and said in February that he planned to go for Tokyo 2020, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Jean Lopez was banned for life last month for sexual misconduct and sexual misconduct involving a minor and is reportedly appealing.

The USOC said in a media statement that it “is deeply focused on supporting, protecting and empowering the athletes we serve.”

USA Taekwondo said in a media statement, “As this is an in-process legal matter it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this time.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.