Prosecution looks into ‘Marine Boy’ doping case

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Prosecution looks into ‘Marine Boy’ doping case

Swimmer Park Tae-hwan and a hospital director surnamed Kim who injected testosterone into the athlete known as “Marine Boy” are likely to end up in court to discover whether either knew the drug was banned by global sporting events.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office is reportedly looking into a conversation between the two that was recorded in October after Park was notified by the Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA), or the International Swimming Federation, in September that he failed a doping test.

In the recording, which is assumed to have been taken by Park, the athlete accuses the director of incorrectly informing him that the shot would not affect the results of a doping test.

Prosecutors are now considering indicting the director on suspicion of injecting Park with the drug Nebido under a charge of professional negligence resulting in injury or loss.

FINA informed Park in October that he tested positive for testosterone in a test carried out in early September. The prosecution said it believes Park was not aware that the shot was banned based on the voice recording, but added that it might not be admitted as evidence if Kim did not agree for the conversation to be recorded.

Park’s agency, Team GMP, said in a statement released Jan. 26 that Kim provided Park with free chiropractic and health screenings at which Park was given two doses of Nebido.

Kim suggested the testosterone injection because he said Park’s hormone levels were insufficiently low.

Given that Kim often uses testosterone on his patients and that Park is aware he is often subjected to doping tests, it remains to be seen if either of the two parties were aware that professional sportsmen are banned from using the drug.

Park needs to attend a FINA hearing, which will be held in Switzerland on Feb. 27, at which he will need to prove that he did not take the drug intentionally.

FINA’s penalties are in line with those set by the World Anti-Doping Agency, so Park is expected to be suspended from competing for two to four years. Even if it is proven that he did not mean to take the prohibited substance, he will still be banned for two years and will not be able to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

There is also the possibility that he will be stripped of the six medals - one silver and five bronze - that he won in the Asian Games held from September to October because the positive test was administered before the competition in September, according to a statement from Park’s agency.

BY KIM SIK, KIM BONG-MOON [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]



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