Beijing: China has kicked four-times Olympic gold medalist Wang Meng out of the national short track speed skating team and disqualified her from competitions for her part in a brawl with her team manager last month.
The fiery 26-year-old, China`s most decorated Winter Games athlete, punched team manager Wang Chunlu after being criticized for coming back late to a training camp following a night out drinking with five other team mates, China`s Winter Sports Administrative Center (WSAC) said late Thursday.
Wang and her team mate Liu Xianwei had "pursued and attacked the team manager and assistant coach and people who tried to intervene," the WSAC said in a statement on its website (http://www.winter-sports.cn).
"In the process, they damaged hotel property and harmed themselves. After coming back to the base from hospital in the early hours of the morning, they even went so far as to disturb their resting team mates.
"The incident is of great severity ... tarnishing the image of an Olympic champion, the image of China`s short track speed skating team, and the image of Chinese athletes," the statement added.
Wang`s team mate Liu had also been expelled for stirring up the argument between Wang and her team manager before it turned physical, state news agency Xinhua said.
The other four squad members out drinking with Wang -- 1,500 meters Olympic champion Zhou Yang, Liu Qiuhong, Han Jialiang and Liang Wenhao -- had been asked to hand in written self-criticisms, the statement added.
Wang had decried her expulsion and said she would hold a press conference later, while several of her team mates claimed they would quit in protest, Xinhua said, without elaborating.
Wang, a multiple world champion and voted China`s sportswoman of the year in 2010 by state broadcaster CCTV, defended her 500m title at the Vancouver Games, and added two golds in the 1000m and team relay. She has also won a silver and a bronze at the 2006 Turin Games.
Her glittering career has been peppered with controversy, however, and she was previously booted off the team in 2007 after criticizing her coach`s tactics at the Asian Winter Games.
Wang was under the spotlight for a clash with police while at a training camp in June at Lijiang, a scenic tourist spot in southwestern China.
Wang and team mate Zhou complained on their microblogs that they and a number of other team mates were beaten in a brawl with security guards when celebrating a Dragon Boat Festival at a pub.
After an investigation, police deemed the athletes had violated local regulations by singing and being rowdy after midnight.