As we reported last month, suspended South Korean champion swimmer, Park Tae Hwan, has begun training under his former coach Roh Min-sang at a public pool in his home country.
Park is currently serving an 18-month ban for testing positive for banned substance testosterone back in the fall of 2014 and currently swims under Roh as a general member of the public facility, as opposed to an athlete. Prior to paying the 300,000 wan membership fee, Park reportedly contacted several 50-meter swimming pools outside of his home country of South Korea, but was not granted access. To even swim at Roh’s facility, Park needed to receive agreements from a minimum of 33 swimming club members’ parents, which he succeeded in obtaining.
Just who is Coach Roh? Park actually had trained with Roh since an early age and Roh’s being appointed to the South Korean National Team coaching staff was attributed to his cultivation of Park’s talents. Roh went on to coach the national team at the 2006 Doha Asian Games, the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, as well as the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Roh has said publicly that, “Park should be given a second chance for his service to Korean swimming.”
Whether or not Park is still aiming for a possible Rio 2016 Olympic bid is yet to be seen, however, as the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) still needs to determine whether it will enforce a relatively new Korean Swimming Federation (KSF) statute, which states that “any athlete who serves a drug-related ban is barred from national teams for three years beginning on the day the suspension ends.” Korean authorities believe he KOC’s decision will be made in November of this year.
According to Korea Times, the general Korean legal community’s stance is that “the rule can be deemed ‘double jeopardy’ and, thus, should be thrown out.” A case in point for precedence is the 2011 “Osaka rule”, a situation in which the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that athletes serving a suspension of more than six months could not also then be banned from competing at the next Olympic Games.
For his part, regarding a possible short-term or long-term Olympic run, Park simply told reporters, “I will prepare myself to grab the chance when it comes.”