By Liam Morgan

South Korean Olympic swimming champion Park Tae-hwan wishes he could turn back time after he was handed an 18-month doping ban ©Getty ImagesSouth Korean Olympic swimming champion Park Tae-hwan has said he wishes he could "turn back time" after being handed an 18-month doping pan for testing positive for testosterone before the Incheon 2014 Asian Games.

Park's ban has been backdated to September 3, 2014, the date on which he provided the positive sample, and is due to finish on March 3, 2016.

He could therefore return in time to compete at the Olympic Games in Rio next year, unless the Korean Olympic Committee decides to enforce their rule which states any athlete who tests positive for banned drugs is not allowed to represent the national team for three years, starting on the day the suspension ends.

The four-time Olympic medallist will, however, miss this year's International Aquatics Federation (FINA) World Championships in Kazan, scheduled for July 24 to August 9, and he has also been stripped of his six Asian Games medals, where he won one silver and five bronze.

"The last few months since the doping results came out have been hell," Park said.

"When I first heard that I had tested positive I thought for sure it must be some mistake.

"I thought: 'Why did this happen to me?' 

"'What if I didn't go to that hospital?'

"'What if I didn't let the doctor inject me?'

"If I could only go back in time."

Confusion surrounded Park's initial failed test after it was claimed he was given an injection by doctors who insisted it didn't contain any banned substances.

Park Tae-hwan claimed Olympic gold with victory in the 400m freestyle event at Beijing 2008 but may not be able to compete in Rio next year ©Getty ImagesPark Tae-hwan claimed Olympic gold with victory in the 400m freestyle event at Beijing 2008 but may not be able to compete in Rio next year ©Getty Images

South Korea's Yonhap news agency claimed the doctor involved in the case has been charged with professional negligence, although there are reports he didn't know the injection administered to the double World Championships gold medallist contained any prohibited substances.

Park, who took gold in the 400 metres freestyle at Beijing 2008, remains hopeful of a return to the sport ahead for Rio and admitted he was bound by FINA's confidentially clause, meaning he could not divulge information about the case until after his hearing, which took place on March 23.

"I want to say sorry to the people for not explaining the situation sooner," he added.

"FINA has left the door open for the Olympics, but nothing has been decided yet.

"Some of those closest to me ask, do you think it's fair that all your glory over the last 10 years, all the time and effort you have put in, it will all come down to you being a junkie.

"I've worn the Korean flag since I was 15 and in all that time I never once thought about using drugs."

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