Olympic champ Park allowed back in pool from Monday

Wed May 27, 2015 9:10am EDT
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SEOUL (Reuters) - Olympic gold medalist Park Tae-hwan, serving an 18 month ban for doping, will return to action in a public pool in Seoul on Monday after parents of local school children allowed him to join a class, local media reported.

Park, who became South Korea's first swimming gold medalist when he won the 400 meter freestyle at the 2008 Beijing Games, was banned by world governing body FINA in March after testing positive for testosterone before September's Asian Games.

Park's ban means he isn't allowed to train at facilities operated by the government or the Korea Swimming Federation (KSF) but he was granted permission on Wednesday to use the Olympic Swimming Pool in Seoul, Yonhap News reported.

The pool is where his coach Roh Min-sang operates. Yonhap, citing facility operators, said parents of other swimmers in the class gave the 25-year-old Park permission to join their children.

Park, also a double world champion and one of the country's most popular athletes, made a tearful apology in March for the failed test attributed to an injection at a local clinic. Park said he should have taken more care to find out what the doctor was injecting him with.

Last month, the unnamed doctor pleaded not guilty of failing to disclose the substances contained in the injection, as well as violating the medical code and causing Park bodily harm.

The swimmer is scheduled to appear as a witness in the case on June 4.

(Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by Julian Linden)

South Korea's Olympic swimming champion Park Tae-hwan reacts as he answers reporters' questions during a news conference at a hotel in Seoul March 27, 2015.   REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji