Park Tae-hwan’s name may be removed from swimming arena

March 26, 2015
Park Tae-hwan (Korea Times file)

Park Tae-hwan (Korea Times file)

By Jung Min-ho

Incheon Metropolitan City (IMC) officials are mulling whether to remove Park Tae-hwan’s name from its swimming arena after the former Olympic swimming champion was suspended from competitions for failing a drug test.

On Monday, FINA, the international swimming governing body, handed down an 18-month suspension to Park, a four-time Olympic medalist in freestyle, after he tested positive for testosterone, a substance banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Soon after the ruling, some people complained to the city government, asking that it remove his name from the Munhak Park Tae-hwan Aquatics Center, built for the 2014 Incheon Asian Games and named in his honor.

However, given Park’s past achievements as a swimmer, it will be a tough decision for the IMC, observers said.

“We don’t have a plan to change the name yet. But we will see how the public opinion goes,” an IMC official said. “The decision has to be made in accordance with public opinion.”

FINA’s decision is not yet final. Park still can appeal the doping decision with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Following the disclosure of his positive test in January, Park argued that a Seoul-based doctor had given him an injection in July without telling him that it contained a banned substance.

FINA said Park will be stripped of all medals earned after Sept. 3. Competing at the arena bearing his name, Park won one silver and five bronze medals at last year’s Incheon Asian Games, which took place after the samples were collected. Three of his bronze medals came in relay events, and Park’s teammates in those races will also lose their medals due to Park’s suspension.