A two-time Olympic taekwondo champion has been permanently banned from competition after the U.S. Center for SafeSport found he violated its code of conduct by allegedly engaging in sexual misconduct with a minor. The organization said it had uncovered a “preponderance of … evidence” that taekwondo star Steven Lopez sexually abused a former student when she was 14. The former student, Nina Zampetti, spoke out about the decision on Friday, telling USA Today Sports, “I’m glad someone finally believes me.” Lopez has been under investigation for sexual misconduct along with his brother, Jean Lopez, for the last three years. Jean Lopez was permanently banned by SafeSport over sexual misconduct violations in April but that ban has been stayed pending an appeal. The two are also facing a class-action lawsuit by four women who allege that the Lopez brothers engaged in sex trafficking and sexual abuse while training and traveling with students around the world. The U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Taekwondo, and SafeSport are also named in that lawsuit.
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