Suspended swimmer Park Tae-hwan to train in Japan

September 22, 2015
Park Tae-hwan looks at an electronic board after completing a 200-meter freestyle race at the national team trials in Gimcheon City, North Gyeongsang Province, on July 16, 2014. Park finished the race in 1:45.25, the fastest in the men's 200m freestyle this year, outperforming the Australian swimmer Cameron McEvoy's 1:45.58. Park will also compete in the 100m and 400m in freestyle, and 200m and 400m in individual medley to qualify for the Incheon Asian Games in September. (Yonhap)

Park Tae-hwan (Yonhap)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — Former Olympic swimming champion Park Tae-hwan, currently serving a doping suspension, has relocated to Japan to continue training, his management company said Tuesday.

Team GMP said Park left for Tokyo with his manager and physical trainer on Monday, and will begin training at Hosei University on Thursday. Park will stay in the Japanese capital until December, Team GMP added.

In March, Park, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist in the men’s 400-meter freestyle, received an 18-month ban from FINA, the international swimming governing body, after testing positive for testosterone the previous fall.

Under FINA’s anti-doping policy, Park isn’t permitted to train at facilities operated by the government or by his national swimming federation. He had been working out at a public pool in Seoul since June.

Park will be returning to familiar grounds. He trained at Hosei for about a month in the summer of 2007, a year before he won his first and lone Olympic gold medal in Beijing.

Park is a grad student at Seoul’s Dankook University, which is a sister school of Hosei. Park will enter an exchange program at the Japanese school, and will live just off campus.

Park has claimed he was injected with an illegal substance without his knowledge, and the doctor who gave Park the contested shot is under trial over charges of professional negligence.

Park, the only South Korean swimmer to win an Olympic medal and a world championship, will remain suspended until March, as the punishment began retroactively on Sept. 3 last year, when FINA collected his samples.

His status for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro remains in limbo. Under a rule instituted by the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) last July, athletes who’ve served a drug suspension are ineligible for national teams in any sport for three years, starting on the day the suspension ends. However, some people in the legal community are pressuring the KOC to change the rule, claiming it unfairly punishes athletes twice.

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