Taekwondo debuted at the Olympics in Sydney in 2000 ©Getty Images

World Taekwondo has said it has "absolutely no knowledge" of allegations that bribes were paid to help secure the sport's place on the Olympic programme, and has asked for evidence so it can conduct a "proper investigation".

Ho Kim, a former head of marketing at the then-called World Taekwondo Federation (WTF), claimed in an interview with The Times that he was a "delivery boy" for the first WTF President Un-yong Kim.

Taekwondo debuted on the full Olympic programme at Sydney 2000 after being selected at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Paris in 1994.

According to Ho Kim, Un-yong Kim had told his staff to do "whatever was necessary" to secure the backing of voting IOC members for the sport.

In his interview with The Times, he alleged that he arranged for two Daewoo cars to be sent to Malian IOC member Lamine Keita.

He also claimed that other members were given "cash in brown envelopes" and that they would fly to South Korean capital Seoul to collect the money.

Another allegation is that officials were reimbursed for first-class airline tickets paid for by Un-yong Kim.

"Taekwondo started as an Olympic sport from Sydney in 2000 because of that," Ho Kim said to the newspaper.

Un-yong Kim was a highly influential South Korean sports official but his career was blighted by scandal ©Getty Images
Un-yong Kim was a highly influential South Korean sports official but his career was blighted by scandal ©Getty Images

Since making its first appearance in Sydney, taekwondo has appeared at every Summer Olympics since.

It has become a popular part of the programme and World Taekwondo said it has been recognised for good governance and efforts in humanitarian and social development.

"World Taekwondo has absolutely no knowledge about any of these allegations against the former administration of over 30 years ago," the governing body said to insidethegames.

"World Taekwondo urges that all evidence behind these allegations is shared with the World Taekwondo Integrity Committee so a proper investigation can be conducted. 

"It would therefore not be appropriate to comment any further until the investigation has concluded. 

"In the meantime, World Taekwondo continues to uphold the highest standards of good governance and integrity in the global administration of our sport."

Un-yong Kim founded the WTF and was one of six people inducted into the governing body's version of the Hall of Fame in August.

He established the Kukkiwon as a world headquarters for taekwondo and branched out into wider sports governance, including playing a key role as Seoul hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics.

Kim was the President of both the Global Association of International Sports Federations and the World Games, and became a vice-president of the IOC.

He ran to replace Juan Antonio Samaranch as IOC President but by that point his career had been blighted by the Salt Lake City scandal, where IOC members were bribed in order to back the American city in the race for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

The IOC handed Kim a warning after it found that a Salt Lake bid official had arranged to pay part of the salary of his son when he worked for an American company.

Taekwondo has become a regular part of the Olympic programme ©Getty Images
Taekwondo has become a regular part of the Olympic programme ©Getty Images

Kim denied knowledge of this but the affair damaged his chances of replacing Samaranch, which at one stage he had been widely tipped to do.

The top job instead went to Jacques Rogge after a vote in Moscow in 2001.

In 2004, Kim was arrested on corruption charges and later jailed for two-and-a-half years.

He always protested his innocence and died in 2017, aged 86. 

Keita was eventually expelled from the IOC for his role in the Salt Lake scandal.

Ho Kim, also a former executive director of the International Boxing Association, also made allegations about his time there during his interview with The Times.

He admitted bribing officials to help get C K Wu elected as President, while alleging a "cash for medals" culture in the sport.

Much of this had been included in the McLaren Report into boxing's governance, which was published in December.