Seoul - South Korean Olympic swimming star and national icon Park Tae-Hwan
fought to clear his name on Tuesday as he reeled from the shock news
that he failed a doping test.
The four-time Olympic medallist blamed an injection given by a
hospital for the result, the second high-profile Asian swimming case in
recent months after China's Sun Yang.
In a statement, Park's management agency Team GMP said the
25-year-old - dubbed "Marine Boy" and with an Asian Games pool bearing
his name - was stunned by the news.
The agency said he was injected at a South Korean hospital while
receiving chiropractic treatment before last year's Asiad in Incheon.
"At the time, the hospital offered to give Park an injection and he
repeatedly asked if it contained any illegal substances," GMP said.
"The doctor said there would be no problem. And yet it turned out the injection contained a banned substance.
"He hasn't even taken cold medicine so that he wouldn't fail doping
tests. Park is more shocked by this result than anyone else."
Park's agency threatened the hospital with legal action over the
case, which could end in a ban for the swimmer with the world
championships approaching in Kazan, Russia, in July.
Park has struggled to repeat the form of the 2008 Olympics, when he
won freestyle gold and silver, and he was unable to win a title at his
home Asian Games in September.
"Park and Team GMP will actively explain these details to FINA and
make every effort to avoid any unfavourable consequences," the agency
Team GMP said Park passed doping controls during the Asian Games,
contested at Incheon's Munhak Park Tae-Hwan Aquatics Centre, but failed a
recent World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) test.
"With our team of legal experts, we're trying to determine why the
particular hospital injected Park with an illegal substance, and we're
preparing to hold it civilly and criminally liable," the management
Acting on a complaint from GMP, prosecutors went to the hospital and removed documents relating to Park's treatment.
A senior official at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office
told reporters on Tuesday that they would consider the possibility of
bringing a negligence suit against the doctor involved.
The revelation over Park comes after China belatedly revealed in
November that double Olympic champion Sun served a three-month doping
ban before the Asian Games.
The 1,500 metres world record-holder won three gold medals in Incheon
after serving the previously unannounced ban. The failure was blamed on
medicine for heart palpitations.
FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu declined to comment to AFP
about Park, saying only that the world swimming body's anti-doping
commission would meet in late February.
Park won 400m freestyle gold and 200m freestyle silver at the Beijing
2008 Olympics, becoming South Korea's first Olympic swimming medallist.
He also won silver in both events at the 2012 London Olympics, along with 400m gold in the world championships in 2007 and 2011.
But he had a disappointing time in the pool in front of an expectant
home crowd at last year's Asian Games, managing only a silver and five
The news could puncture some of the euphoria in South Korea on
Tuesday after it came to light as the national football team reached
their first Asian Cup final in 27 years.