Athlete cleared in doping case

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Athlete cleared in doping case

Concluding that swimming champion Park Tae-hwan received a hormone injection without knowing that the drug he took is banned from use by competitors at international sports competitions, prosecutors on Friday indicted the doctor who administered the shot.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office started an investigation surrounding the doping allegation of the four-time Olympic medalist after the Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA), or the International Swimming Federation, notified him in September that he had failed a doping test. The doctor, only identified by his surname Kim, was also questioned on charges of administering a shot that included testosterone to the swimmer nicknamed “Marine Boy.”

According to the prosecutors, Kim was indicted without pretrial detention on a charge of professional negligence resulting in injury or loss. During the questioning, he admitted that he had injected Park with the drug Nebido, which includes testosterone, on July 29 last year. The prosecution said both Park and Kim were unaware at the time that the substance was prohibited for professional sportsmen.

But Kim was still indicted based on the precedent that a doctor is legally responsible for informing a patient about the contents of a substance, along with any medical warnings and possible side effects. To bring charges against Kim, the prosecution cited a Supreme Court precedent as well as cases from other countries.

The prosecution also said the change in hormone levels resulting from the prohibited drug amounts to causing injury.

In Germany, a doctor was previously indicted for negligence resulting in injury for providing testosterone to swimmers, telling them it was a vitamin.

Kim was also accused of violating medical law by omitting the Nebido injection from Park’s medical record.

The prosecution said Park and his manager had requested that the clinic ensure the treatment, provided free of charge, would include no banned substances several times. The clinic reportedly replied that the shot would not cause any problems because the drug is identical to a hormone naturally produced inside the body and that the treatment was intended to compliment hormone balance in Park’s body.

After he failed the doping test, Park filed a petition against Kim to the prosecution last month.

Park is scheduled to attend a FINA hearing in Switzerland on Feb. 27, at which he will need to prove that he did not take the drug intentionally. The prosecution’s conclusion on Friday is expected to be used in his defense.

It remains to be seen if this will be accepted at the hearing.

Even if it is proven that Park did not intentionally take the prohibited substance, he is still highly likely receive a suspension. That will effectively stop him from competing in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Park may also be stripped of the six medals - one silver and five bronzes - that he won in the Asian Games held from September to October because the injection and subsequent doping test were administered before the competition.


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