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U.S. Olympic taekwondo gold medalist banned amid investigation

Lopez Brothers-Investigation

File-This Aug. 19, 2016, file photo shows Steven Lopez of the United States being kicked by Oussama Oelslati of Tunisia during a men’s 80 kg taekwondo bronze medal contest at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. USA Today reported Friday, June 9, 2017, that USA Taekwondo began investigating claims against Steven and Jean Lopez more than two years ago after multiple women said the brothers sexually assaulted them. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

AP

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 Today, which 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.