An American woman who played in the Korean basketball league last season forged her birth certificate to beat the foreign-player quota, prosecutors allege.
Chelsey Lee (27) also applied for Korean citizenship, claiming her paternal grandmother is Korean.
Under the league's regulations, each women's league team is allowed up to two foreign players, but foreigners of Korean descent are classified as Korean. If the allegations are true, the revelation raises suspicions about the credibility of other records in the league.
Lee played a major role in her team, KEB Hana Bank, finishing second the previous season and won six awards including Rookie of the Year. A spokesperson for the Women's Korean Basketball League said a board meeting and disciplinary hearing will consider stripping Lee of her awards and annulling the KEB Hana Bank's wins.
Lee debuted in the WKBL last year and claimed that her grandmother is Korean, giving her father's name as Jesse Lee. But when prosecutors checked with the U.S. Embassy they found that there exists no such birth certificate.
"It was a forged birth certificate and Jesse Lee does not exist," a prosecution official said.
Lee's purported grandmother lived in the U.S. and died in 1979 but is in fact no relation of the athlete's, according to prosecutors.
"The family of the woman named as Lee's grandmother told us they do not know Chelsey," a prosecution official said. "We believe the birth certificate was forged after downloading the woman's death certificate on the Internet."
Prosecutors said they found no evidence that KEB Hana Bank was involved in the forgery to beat the quota.
The basketball team apologized and vowed to take legal measures against the athlete and her agent. The team added that its owner will resign if the documents were forgeries.
Meanwhile, Chelsey Lee and her agent are in the U.S. and not responding to requests by prosecutors to appear for questioning. Prosecutors plan to seek the assistance of U.S. officials.