Steven. It is my pleasure to speak with you, and above all, I appreciate the trust that you have placed in mundotaekwondo.com and its social media platforms, to speak about the situation that you have recently gone through.
I would like to ask you several questions that the entire world Taekwondo community would like to know and must know about you since, until now, your lawyers had advised that you not make any statements to any media outlet about this situation.
On December 5, 2018 you won an arbitration, which was decided upon by JAMS (Judicial Arbitration Mediation Service). This arbitration resolved the issue of whether or not you violated the SafeSport code. With numerous witnesses testifying on your behalf, and the lack of evidence and the lack of proof of the violations that you were accused of committing, the SafeSport organization has lifted the lifetime ban that you were subjected to.
It is because of this momentous decision that it is extremely important for the public, who has closely followed your situation, to hear your side of the story.
Steven López- SafeSport’s method of operation is to make a decision without granting due process to the accused. SafeSport does not function as court of law and thereby does not give us athletes the right to defend ourselves against false accusations. It was not until December 5, 2018 that I was granted the right to defend myself in front of a neutral arbitrator. After presenting my case, I have been cleared of all accusations and the ban that SafeSport had imposed on me has been lifted.
M.T.- You have won your arbitration which allows you to once again participate in Taekwondo with all of your rights reinstated. How do you feel about this win?
S.L.- Above all, I give thanks to God for always taking care of my family and me. I know that the beacon of truth shines brightest during darkest of times. I feel a sense of relief that this chapter in my life has finally passed. However, at the same time I cannot avoid feeling a sense of sadness for how cruel and vile the darkest corners of human nature can be.
-I understand that with great success one becomes a target for those that are driven by greed and jealousy. My strength to overcome the obstacles of life has always been my faith, the support of my family, my friends and my loyal fans from all over the world.
M.T.- How would you describe your experience in these last several months?
S.L.- These last several months have given me the opportunity to reflect, regroup, and reinvigorate. I have been competing at the highest level for the past 24 years and so I welcomed the momentary break. Through deep thought and reflection, I have discovered that adversity will manifest itself in all shapes and sizes. As in Taekwondo competition and as it is in life, you learn, you adapt, and you are strengthened by the challenges that you face. I give thanks to God for giving me the strength and the guidance that has helped me navigate through these last several months.
M.T.- What role has your family played for you?
S.l. For all of my life, my family has been with me through thick and thin, through the highs and lows. They are the love and support that has brought me strength, peace, and happiness.
M.T. As the dust settles from this difficult moment in your life, Steven Lopez, do you still trust people?.
S.L.- My outlook on life is to forgive and to not be resentful, to love and not to hate, to see the positive in every situation. Good and evil exists in this world and I am sure that the good will always prevail over the bad.
M.T.- What have you learned from this legal experience that had put your career and your reputation in danger?
S.L. What I have learned from this legal process is that this unfortunate situation could happen to anyone. It could happen to you, your son, your father, your brother, your friend. It has also reinforced the idea that, just like in combat, you should only focus on what you can control and not let yourself be distracted by the things that you cannot control.
MT.- What was your primary defense against the false accusations?
S.L.- The truth and the evidence that we had presented.
M.T.- Do you believe that you were unjustly characterized by the media in a negative way because of this case?
S.L.- During the last two decades I have willingly assumed the responsibility of being a role model for all, and to being the spokesman for my family and the great sport of Taekwondo. That being said, when the media attacked me, it felt as though they were attacking our sport of Taekwondo as well. The media is in the business of selling their papers and magazines, and getting as many clicks as they can. Therefore, some media outlets sensationalize rumors and false accusations instead of doing their job of investigating and finding the truth.
M.T.- What kept you resilient?
S.L. What kept me standing tall and with my head held up high through the media onslaught was simply telling and knowing the truth.
M.T.- Many people sympathized with what was happening to you. Others reacted with anger and hate towards you. What message do you have for those who believed in you and for those who unjustly judged you?
S.L. The beautiful thing about this experience is that I sincerely felt the love and support of the TKD community. I would like to give my thanks and appreciation from the bottom of my heart to those who believed in me; I will continue to make you proud. For the few who were quick to judge me and were hoping for my downfall, I understand that it simply a projection of your own deficiencies and limitations.
M.T. What is your immediate personal goal? Will you continue to compete?
S.L. My immediate objectives are to get back to my projects that have been put on hold over these last several months which include giving motivational speeches, training camps, and seminars. Regarding competition, I will be sitting down with my brother and coach, Jean Lopez, to see what will be our next step for my competitive career.
M.T.- What did you depend on to get you through your most difficult moments?
S.L. My rock, my foundation, my strength: it has always been our Lord and Savior. God is great!
M.T. Leave us with a message or some additional thoughts for the international Taekwondo community.
S.L. I would like to show my gratitude to all of those who have supported me throughout my entire career- The grandmasters, masters, instructors, students, volunteers, fans, referees, and champions of past and present- for your contributions to the martial art and sport that impassions us all, Taekwondo. My best wishes to you all and may God bless you.