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Swimmer Park Tae-hwan faces hearing after positive doping test

Reeling from the shocking news of a failed doping test, South Korean Olympic swimming champion Park Tae-hwan faces an international hearing, South Korea's national swimming body said Tuesday.

The news of Park's positive test emerged Monday, and his Seoul-based agency Team GMP, while confirming the result, blamed it on an injection given by a local hospital.

The Korea Swimming Federation (KSF) said Tuesday that Park had actually failed a test administered by FINA, the international swimming governing body, rather than the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), as was first reported.

The KSF added that Park was tested ahead of the Asian Games in the South Korean city of Incheon, which opened in September, and was notified of the result last October.

"FINA told us of Park's positive test at the end of October last year," an official at the KSF said. "I understand FINA also directly informed the athlete as well. Because of FINA's regulations on confidentiality on doping tests until the penalties are determined after a hearing, we couldn't make any announcement (until a report emerged Monday)."

However, three doping tests administered on Park during the Asian Games were confirmed negative on Tuesday, according to the games organizing committee.

In a statement, the committee said Park was tested after his 200-meter freestyle race on Sept. 21, after the 400m freestyle on Sept. 23, and finally after the 100m freestyle on Sept. 25. The committee added that all doping tests were done in accordance with the WADA's regulations and an institution authorized by the WADA analyzed the samples collected. The results were then delivered to the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), the governing body of sports in the continent, according to the committee.

File photo shows Park Tae-hwan posing after winning the bronze medal in men`s 200 freestyle race on Sept. 21 at the Incheon Asian Games. (Yonhap)
File photo shows Park Tae-hwan posing after winning the bronze medal in men`s 200 freestyle race on Sept. 21 at the Incheon Asian Games. (Yonhap)
Later the same day, state prosecutors in Seoul said Park received a testosterone injection at the hospital at the end of July.

The administration of testosterone is prohibited by WADA.

According to prosecutors, officials from the hospital have testified that they gave Park the injection to help boost his hormone level but that they weren't aware that testosterone was a banned substance.

On the other hand, Park's camp has told the authorities that the swimmer repeatedly asked the hospital about the content of the injection and that he was assured that the shot would be clean. Prosecutors said Park underwent questioning last Sunday.

Prosecutors said they may indict the doctor who administered the injection, surnamed Kim, on charges of professional negligence.

Team GMP said it would try to hold the hospital civilly and criminally liable for its action.

According a WADA official, Park will have to attend a FINA hearing to explain his situation.

"A world-class swimmer like Park is tested frequently out of competition," the official said of the four-time Olympic medalist and two-time world champion. "The severity of his penalty will be determined after his hearing."

FINA's executive director, Cornel Marculescu, told AFP that the world swimming body's anti-doping commission would meet in late February.

Though his agency is seeking legal action, Park may ultimately be held accountable for the result and face discipline, based on WADA's World Anti-Doping Code.

In Article 10, titled "Sanctions on Individuals," the code states that if an athlete can establish that he or she bears no fault or negligence, the athlete may not face sanctions. However, one of the exceptions listed by the code is "the administration of a prohibited substance by the athlete's personal physician or trainer without disclosure to the athlete."

The code also points out: "Athletes are responsible for their choice of medical personnel and for advising medical personnel that they cannot be given any prohibited substance."

At the 2008 Beijing Games, Park became the first South Korean to win an Olympic swimming gold medal when he took the men's 400-meter freestyle race. He added a silver in the 200m freestyle.

He grabbed two silver medals at the 2012 London Olympics in the 200m and the 400m freestyle events. He has also won two world championships in the 400m freestyle.

Park is the most decorated South Korean in Asian Games history with 20 medals, including six gold medals. (Yonhap)
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