As the final step of the ongoing story surrounding Korean Olympic gold medalsit Park Tae Hwan‘s doping scandal, the 26-year-old swimmer has officially been ruled out of this year’s Olympic Games in Rio, reports Yonhap News.
Park was slapped with an 18-month ban by FINA after previously testing positive for testosterone in the fall of 2014. His suspension was lifted as of March 2nd of this year. However, the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) has an additional punitive rule in place that requires “any athlete who serves a drug-related ban is barred from national teams for three years beginning on the day the suspension ends.”
The rule was originally adopted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2008, but in 2011 the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS), which serves as the world’s top sports tribunal, determined that the regulation, nicknamed the ‘Osaka Rule’ was “a violation of the IOC’s own statute and therefore is invalid and unenforceable.”
In light of the CAS ruling, critics of the KOC argue that, as a member of the international anti-doping community, the KOC should respect international standards. However, the KOC announced today that it would not amend the rule, which means that Park is now under a 3-year suspension, beginning on March 2nd.
Park had been training in his home nation of Korea as of December 2015, with his eye still on the 2016 Games, hoping the KOC would make changes enabling him to compete. Park won gold in the 400m freestyle and silver in the 200m free event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He followed that performance up with two more medals, both silver, in the same events at the 2012 Games in London.
The 3-year ban would be lifted as of March 2nd, 2019 and, therefore, Park would theoretically be eligible to participate in the Tokyo 2020 Games, however, he would be 29 years of age at the time.
Park remains as the only South Korean swimmer to win an Olympic medal of any color.