South Korean swimmer Ji Heun Kim has tested positive for the banned substance Clenbuterol at an out-of-competition test on May 13th, 2014. After completion of proceedings by the Korea Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel, Kim received a two-year suspension, back-dated to the day of his positive test.
The 25-year old Kim is a huge figure in South Korean swimming: one of their bigger male stars. He swam the leadoff leg of South Korea’s prelims relay at the 2010 Asian Games, posting a 57.15 in the 100 meter backstroke, and also represented the country at the 2008 Summer Olympics in the 200 backstroke. There, he placed 26th overall in 2:00.72.
South Korean aquatics don’t have much of a history of issues with doping. FINA’s public report listings don’t name a single doping sanction across its 6 disciplines for the country since a swimmer received a two-year suspension in 2007.
Clenbuterol is not a frequent culprit for doping suspensions by FINA, though there historically has been a case-or-two every year. It’s clinical use is as a decongestant and bronchodilator to treat ailments like asthma, though it is not an ingredient in any US FDA-approved theraputic drug.
The most high-profile positive tests for clenbuterol in the past includes U.S. swimmer Jessica Hardy (it cost her a spot on the 2008 Olympic Team); Asian Record holder Ning Zetao; major-league baseball player Guillermo Mota; and former Tour de France champion Alberto Contador. These cases have consistently carried two-year suspensions (except in the case of Mota, not under the auspices of WADA, who received a 50-game suspension). In 2011, however, members of the Mexican National soccer team escaped suspension by claiming that their food was tainted with the substance – a claim backed by FIFA reports that 109 players from the U-17 World Cup, held in Mexico, tested positive for the same substance.