South Korean police say they will investigate claims of sexual abuse made against disgraced short track speed skating coach Cho Jae-beom, by Shim Suk-hee ©Getty Images

Police in South Korea have said they will investigate claims of sexual assault made against former short track speed skating coach Cho Jae-beom.

According to South Korean news agency Yonhap, police in Suwon, in the Northwest of the country, say they will start a probe into allegations made against the former short track speed skating coach, who is already serving a 10-month sentence for physically assaulting athletes between 2011 and 2018.

He was sentenced to prison in September after allegations against him were first raised by Olympic champion Shim Suk-hee.

The 21-year-old alleged Cho had hit her and three others on several occasions, causing injuries including broken bones and concussion.

Prior to last year's Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, she boycotted a training camp in protest at the abuse but did return two days later.

As a consequence, Cho has been banned from the sport for life by the Korea Skating Union (KSU) and is already in prison but he now faces the potential of further charges after Shim alleged he also sexually assaulted her.

The two-time Olympian raised the new allegations last month, accusing Cho of sexually abusing her between 2014 when she was at high school, until just two months before the Pyeongchang 2018, where she helped South Korea win the women’s 3,000 metres relay.

Shim Suk-hee alleges the sexual abuse started in 2014, when she would have been 16-years-old ©Getty Images
Shim Suk-hee alleges the sexual abuse started in 2014, when she would have been 16-years-old ©Getty Images

Cho denies the allegations, but as reported by Yonhap, police will now launch an investigation based on Shim’s complaint and materials taken from both her and Cho’s phones.

Earlier this month the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee (KSOC) President Lee Kee-heung issued an apology for “major flaws” in the protection of athletes.

He promised further measures would be introduced, along with helping those who were affected by abuse.

"The KSOC and the government have established a system to improve the rights of our athletes and to prevent violence and sexual misconduct in sports," he said, according to Yonhap.

"But this case has demonstrated that our system has major flaws.

"We'll apply a zero tolerance policy on perpetrators of sexual violence, so that they will never be allowed to set foot in sports again.

"We'll also try to protect the victims the best we can."

Kim Young-joo, a politician from the Democratic Party, has claimed South Korean National Federations have been disciplined for 124 cases of assault and abuse over the past five years.

Of the 124 incidents, 16 were sexual assault cases, Kim said, including two by coaches against underage athletes.