Doping hearing for swimmer Park Tae-hwan postponed per request

February 13, 2015


SEOUL (Yonhap) — An international doping hearing for South Korean swimmer Park Tae-hwan has been postponed, officials here said on Friday.

The Korea Swimming Federation (KSF) said FINA, the international governing body of swimming, has put off the hearing originally scheduled for Feb. 27 in Lausanne, Switzerland. No new date has been set, the KSF added.

The KSF explained that Park had asked FINA to delay the hearing because he needed more time to prepare.

Park, a four-time Olympic medalist and two-time world champ, tested positive for testosterone, a substance banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), after submitting two urine samples to FINA on Sept. 3.

Earlier this month, prosecutors in Seoul indicted the doctor who apparently injected the banned substance into Park on charges of professional negligence.

Since his positive result was first reported last month, the swimmer has claimed that the doctor gave him the injection last July without fully disclosing that it could contain a banned substance.

According to prosecutors, Park had distinctly asked the doctor if the injection contained any banned substances but the doctor didn’t disclose the name, ingredients or side effects of the shot administered.

Park’s career appears in jeopardy as he is almost certain to be suspended for doping. The WADA’s World Anti-Doping Code emphasizes that athletes are “responsible for their choice of medical personnel and for advising medical personnel that they cannot be given any prohibited substance.”

Should Park be suspended, the suspension would begin retroactively on Sept. 3, the day FINA collected his samples.

This means Park would be stripped of the one silver and five bronze medals he captured at last year’s Incheon Asian Games, which took place after the samples were collected for testing. Park won three bronze medals in relay events, and his teammates in those races would also lose their medals if Park is suspended.

Starting in 2015, the WADA will ban first-time offenders for four years, up from two years, but since Park tested positive last year, the toughened rule won’t apply to him retroactively.

With a suspension of any length, Park will be ineligible to compete at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro under the rules set by the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC). The KOC stipulates that an athlete who has been suspended for a positive drug test may not be named to a national team for three years, starting from the day the suspension ends.