We reported two updates last week to the ongoing saga of Olympic swimming champion Park Tae Hwan, the South Korean superstar currently serving an 18-month ban for having tested positively for prohibited substances last fall.
Not only did we report that Park was scheduled to head back to South Korea from Japan, where he had been training in Tokyo, but also that prosecutors had recommended a 10-month jail sentence with a fine of approximately $850 (1 million won) for the doctor who allegedly administered Park’s injection. The injection, says Park’s camp, contained the illegal steroid without Park’s knowledge.
Today, however, the doctor who is only identified by her surname, Kim, was indeed found guilty of breaching medical code, but was cleared of the more severe charge of causing Park bodily harm (professional negligence) Kim was fined the full $850 amount for failing to log the injections on her patient’s records, thus breaching South Korea’s medical code, but is free to continue working.
In her testimony, the doctor told the court that she had been “victimized as a scapegoat” and insists that Park was aware of receiving the banned steroid, Nebido, within the injection received at her hospital in December 2013 and July 2014.
“After these two occasions, Park himself selected injections and I thought both his agents and Park were well in control (of any potential doping problems),” said Kim last month in her testimony.
Although Park’s ban ends in March 2016, he still has to contend with the Korean Olympic Committee rule that states any athlete who has served a drug suspension are deemed ineligible for national teams in any sport for three years, with that time span beginning on the day on which the suspension ends. However, some people in the legal community are pressuring the KOC to change the rule, claiming it unfairly punishes athletes twice.
Korean Olympic trials are slated for both February and April, with swimmers participating in either one or both of the meets to attempt to qualify for the team.