Former Olympic Swimming Champion Apologizes For Doping Ban

South Korean swimmer Park Tae-hwan has offered an impassioned public apology, a few days after he received a doping ban of 18 months from FINA, the world governing body of swimming, for failing a doping test.

The swimmer expressly took complete responsibility for at least putting himself in an awkward position that allowed this situation to happen. Park stated he felt something must have been wrong when he first learned of the test result and added but then he realized that he should have been more careful. The South Korean swimmer said he thinks it is his fault regardless of reasons or processes that things have come to this point. Park Tae-hwan remarked he is sorry for having disappointed his fans and the South Korean people and added that he would like to apologize to the people for causing so much trouble with this unacceptable incident.

In a press conference at the Jamsil Tourist Hotel in Seoul, Park Tae-hwan in trembling voice said all of his honors over the past 10 years have come to nothing and added that all of his efforts just made him a junkie. The swimmer, popularly known as the “Marine Boy“, said since doping is something he has been aware of every day since the 2004 Olympics and added he could neither believe nor accept that this had happened. He went on to remark that aside from the question of intentionality, the very fact that an athlete who represents his country has caused a scandal is shameful and he deeply regrets what he had done.

It was previously claimed by the agency of Park that the positive drug test was due to an injection administered by a local hospital that provided him free chiropractic and other treatments in July.

The former Olympic swimming champion, who won the only ever swimming gold for South Korea in the 400 meters freestyle at the 2008 Beijing Games, tested positive for Testosterone in an out-of-competition drug test on September 3. The 18-month doping ban began retroactively the day of the positive test in early September and will expire on March 2, 2016. The results of Park after September 3, 2014 have been annulled and he would return the three bronze medals he won at last year’s Asian Games in Incheon, Korea.

The Olympic body of South Korea is presently contemplating easing its eligibility rules for athletes entering international competitions that would allow Park Tae-hwan a chance at qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil. Under present anti-doping rules of the country, any athlete suspended for doping is barred from competing with the national team for a period of three years.

In another development, FINA announced that it collected 1,121 doping samples in the year 2014 including the one that caught Park Tae-hwan. FINA said 894 were “Unannounced Out-of-Competition,” while 773 were “In Competition” and these anti-doping tests were in addition to those conducted by other organizations with anti-doping rules, including national Anti-Doping organizations, and the NCAA.

World Record holder Sun Yang, who tested positive for a banned substance in 2014, was tested only three times by FINA while Americans Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps each underwent 4 tests. Yang was banned by the China Anti-Doping Agency after he tested positive for a banned stimulant Trimetazidine. In 2012, Sun Yang became the first Chinese male swimmer to win Olympic gold when took gold in the 400m and 1,500m freestyle events at London 2012.

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