Olympic gold medallist Park Tae-hwan’s hopes of representing South Korea at Rio 2016 have been dashed after the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) refused to waive its rule on athletes competing at the Games who have failed drugs tests.
Park, winner of the men’s 400 metres freestyle at Beijing 2008, received an 18-month ban after testing positive for testosterone before the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon.
The suspension ended on March 2 after the 26-year-old had his ban backdated to September 3, 2014, the date on which he provided the positive sample.
He had hoped to be allowed to compete at this summer’s Olympic Games in the Brazilian city but the KOC have enforced their regulation, 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 ruling, introduced in 2014, caused controversy and the KOC immediately faced calls to amend the regulation.
It followed a Court of Arbitration for Sport decision in 2011 which ruled that the now-defunct Osaka Rule - which banned athletes convicted of serious doping offences from competing in the next Olympic Games - was "a violation of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) own Statute and is therefore invalid and unenforceable”.
The Osaka Rule was originally implemented by the IOC in 2008.
Those who have been critical of the KOC have pointed to the CAS ruling as an example that the regulation should no longer be in existence.
The news provides a huge blow to Park, who had been preparing for the upcoming South Korean national team trials on April 25, according to news agency Yonhap.
His doping case remains controversial as the South Korean, who remains the only swimmer from the nation to have ever won an OIympic medal of any colour, has always denied wrongdoing and the doctor who administered the substance has since been fined for injecting the steroid into her patient.
The doctor, identified only by her surname Kim, was found guilty of breaching South Korea’s medical code after failing to log injections of banned anabolic steroid Nebido on Park’s records.
She has been cleared of the more serious charge of causing Park bodily harm, however, and was declared free to continue to practice in December.
Kim claimed that Park knew he was receiving male hormone and vitamin injections when he visited her hospital in December 2013 and July 2014, despite earlier denials from the four-time Olympic medallist’s management team.
Park missed last year’s World Championships in Kazan and he has also been stripped of his six Asian Games medals, where he won one silver and five bronze.