South Korean swimmer Park Tae-hwan, a 2008 Olympic champion, has failed a doping test after a local team injected him with Testosterone.

Seoul prosecutors said the hospital had testified it gave the swimmer the shot but did not realize it was against World Anti-Doping Agency regulations. According to media reports, Park had already been questioned by prosecutors and the doctor could face charges of negligence. The swimmer could still face punishment under the strict anti-doping rules even if he was not aware that he had been injected with a banned substance. A lengthy ban could derail Park’s hopes of swimming at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

At the 2008 Beijing Games, Park became the first South Korean to win an Olympic swimming medal when he conquered the 400mg freestyle. The swimmer is one of the most celebrated athletes in his country. Affectionally known as the “Marine Boy” because of its poster-boy looks and clean-cut image, his popularity has never wavered despite a dip in his performances in the recent years. Park has been the face of endorsements for headache pills, milk, communication equipment, and air conditioners besides being a goodwill ambassador for the Dynamic Korea promotion.

Park’s agency, Team GMP, said the swimmer had repeatedly asked the hospital if there were any illegal substances in the injection but he was assured it was safe. In a statement, Team GMP said Park Tae-hwan as a world-class swimmer for the last 10 years hasn’t taken so much as cold medicine, that’s how careful he’s been due to concerns about doping problems and illegal substances and added Park is more shocked by this result than anyone else.

Park’s management said it would take legal action against the free clinic in Icheon that injected Park after they assured him the substance was legal and added the hospital offered to give Park an injection, and he repeatedly asked if it contained any illegal substances. The management remarked we are trying with our team of legal experts to determine why the particular hospital injected Park with an illegal substance, and we’re preparing to hold it civilly and criminally liable. It was added that the doctor said there would be no problem and yet it turned out the injection contained a banned substance.

The 2008 Olympic 400m freestyle champ Park joined Sun Yang, China’s Olympic star, to fail a doping test. Leading Australian coach Michael Bohl expressed shock at the positive doping test for Park, his former swimmer. Both swimmers were associated with Australian coaches at the time of their failed tests but anti-doping tests took place in their homelands and there is no hint of any untoward activity in Australia. Park quit training under Bohl ending a four-year association after the Asian Games last September and has since started training in the USA under Dave Marsh and alongside US star Ryan Lochte.

Park would now have to attend a hearing with FINA, swimming’s world governing body, on February 27 to answer the doping charge.

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