South Korea’s national Olympic committee said Thursday its ban on disgraced swim star Park Tae-Hwan competing at the Rio Olympics would stand, rejecting the swimmer’s emotional plea for reinstatement.
The multiple Olympic medallist completed an 18-month drug suspension in April after testing positive for an anabolic steroid in out-of-competition controls before the 2014 Asian Games.
But he remains barred from competing in Rio de Janeiro under a rule of the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) that prohibits athletes from representing the country for three years after the expiration of any doping ban.
“We’ve decided not to amend the protocol,” KOC board member Han Jong-Hee told reporters.
“The spirit of this protocol is to make sure that national athletes be armed with high morality.
“Doping runs against the spirit of fair play and it must be sternly dealt with, especially for the sake of educating young athletes,” Han said.
The KOC said it would inform the international Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) of its decision and would respond to any subsequent mediation efforts.
Park has argued that the KOC regulation is unfair and he filed an appeal with the CAS back in April.
In the meantime he has begged for a chance to compete in what would be his third, and almost certainly last, Olympics — at one point getting down on his hands and knees during a press conference.
The 26-year-old was once the poster-boy of South Korean swimming — courted by advertisers and idolised by fans.
He won 400m freestyle gold and 200m freestyle silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and two silver medals at the 2012 London Olympics, as well as 400m world titles in 2007 and 2011.
On his competitive return to the pool last month, he easily won the 100m, 200m, 400m and 1,500m freestyle events at the 88th Dong-A meet, which doubles as a national trial.
His positive doping test was only revealed in January last year, and was initially blamed by Park’s management team on the incompetence of a doctor at the hospital where the swimmer was receiving treatment. – Agence France-Presse