SEOUL (Reuters) - Swimmer Park Tae-hwan is still waiting to hear from the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) on whether it will drop a controversial rule that has tacked on three years to his doping ban imposed by governing body FINA, his management team said on Tuesday.
Park completed an 18-month ban in March after testing positive for testosterone ahead of the Incheon Asian Games in Sept. 2014 but under KOC regulations he must wait another three years to be eligible for national selection again.
Critics of the regulation say it punishes an athlete twice for the same offence and there have been suggestions the swimmer could take his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
In 2011, CAS ruled that the IOC’s “Osaka Rule”, which banned athletes hit with anti-doping suspensions of at least six months from competing at the next Olympic Games, was a violation of its own statutes.
Under the KOC’s rule, Park would miss out on this summer’s Rio Olympics and regain eligibility at the age of 29, typically well beyond a swimmer’s peak.
Despite the ban, Park decided to compete at last week’s national trials and won the 100m, 200m, 400m and 1,500m freestyle events. He swam the year’s fourth fastest time in the 400m.
The 26-year-old, who won gold in the 400m freestyle at the 2008 Beijing Games to become the first Korean to win an Olympic swimming medal, had heard nothing directly from the KOC and would soon decide on his next move, Team GMP told Reuters.
“Park has not received any final notice from the KOC,” the official said by telephone on Tuesday.
“If there is no reply very soon, Park will contact the KOC for a final stance and make a decision after that.”
In an interview with South Korea’s Yonhap news agency on Monday, Dick Pound, the former chief of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), said the KOC could find itself in hot water with the International Olympic Committee over Park’s case.
As a signatory to the WADA Code, the KOC had to abide by the rules laid down for international sport and by imposing additional sanctions on athletes for doping it could become non-compliant, Pound said.
“That has many ramifications,” he told Yonhap.
“One of the rules in the Olympic Charter is you must be code-compliant to be able to participate in the Olympic Games.”
The KOC stood by its hard line on Tuesday but said the issue of “double jeopardy” could be discussed at an upcoming meeting.
“While double jeopardy may be an issue based on precedent, what is more important is the strong will to stop doping,” a KOC official told Reuters by telephone.
The official added that the KOC, as a National Olympic Committee (NOC), had the right to make such a decision.
“Even if a report is filed to the IOC, it can only make recommendations. (This issue) is the right of the NOC.”
Writing by Peter Rutherford; Editing by Ian Ransom