Poor athlete management

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Poor athlete management

After South Korean Olympic swimming champion Park Tae-hwan failed a doping test given by the swimming world governing body FINA, officials discovered that he had received a testosterone injection in July at a local hospital.

According to state prosecutors, Park was given the injection to boost his hormone levels, and the hospital was allegedly unaware that testosterone - a popular supplement among older people for its ability to treat reduced bone density and temporarily help build and strengthen muscles - was a substance banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency in international sporting events.

Prosecutors said the hospital Park visited gave him the injection to raise his hormone levels without knowing it was a banned substance for competitive athletes. But the hospital’s explanation is unconvincing since the effects and risks of the use of testosterone by men with normal levels are widely known to physicians. Park’s agency said the four-time Olympic medallist repeatedly asked if the shot contained prohibited substances, and the doctor assured him it did not. But this explanation is also unclear because it would be simple to do a quick smartphone check.

The hospital and agency must be held responsible for taking so poor care of the country’s sports star. Why he visited a local hospital while there are physicians exclusively looking after national team swimmers is also strange. Regardless of his story, Park will inevitably face a doping penalty in a hearing by FINA in February.

Park could be banned from all competitions for up to four years.

He and the sports authorities should be careful so that Park doesn’t miss the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janerio. Local sports authorities should also learn from this lesson and take better care of Korea’s national players. They must see to it that none fall prey to drugs or make the mistake of giving them substances they are unsure about. They must make full use of physicians who specializing in treating athletes. Doping tests are not just customary, but necessary procedures to ensure fair competition.

JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 28, Page 30

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