South Korean Olympic champion Park Tae-hwan met with members of the Korean Swimming Federation and the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) over the weekend to discuss strategies to help Park avoid a doping ban that could cost him his eligibility for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
The Korea Times reports that the meeting took place last Friday, January 30th. Park failed a drug test last year and will face a FINA hearing later this month with a possible suspension looming.
Park is Korea’s top swimmer and far and away its best shot at an Olympic medal in the sport. The Korean Olympic Committee and national swimming federation are reportedly working to help Park avoid a suspension, because a suspension of any kind might leave Park ineligible for the 2016 Olympic Games.
Inside the Games reports on KOC rules, saying that “any athlete who tests positive for banned drugs is not allowed to represent the national team for three years, starting on the day the suspension ends.” That would mean any ban on Park imposed at this point would disqualify him from representing South Korea at the 2016 Olympics.
Park claims he received an injection from a chiropractor that caused him to fail the test, despite Park repeatedly asking the chiropractor if it contained any banned substances. The injection was a product called Nebido, a testosterone boost used to treat men with testosterone deficiency. According to The Korea Times, Park has filed a lawsuit against the clinic that injected him.
Park will face a tough road to escape a ban of any length. According to Inside the Games, Park must prove that he “bears no fault” in order to avoid sanctions.