KOC turns down banned Park's Rio appeal

Thu Jun 16, 2016 3:21am EDT
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SEOUL (Reuters) - The Korea Olympic Committee has turned down Park Tae-hwan's appeal to overturn a controversial doping suspension, leaving the swimmer's hopes of competing at the Rio Games in the hands of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The former Olympic champion has already served an 18-month ban imposed by swimming's world governing body FINA but is fighting to repeal a KOC regulation that imposed an additional three-year suspension, effectively ruling him out of Rio.

The 26-year-old South Korean lodged a case with CAS but had hoped the KOC might re-consider its hard-line position before going to trial.

The KOC poured cold water on such hopes on Thursday, saying the rule would remain in force.

"The regulation for the selection of national team representatives was made with the aim of demanding a high level of morality of our national team athletes and considering the dignity required of a public figure," the KOC said in a statement carried on South Korean television.

"Doping is against the fair play spirit, a basic requirement of athletes, and we decided that a rigorous response was needed for educational purposes to young athletes."

Park, who won gold in the 400 meters freestyle and silver in the 200 at the 2008 Beijing Games, was left frustrated by the KOC's actions and will be seeking a swift resolution with time running out ahead of the Aug. 5-21 Olympics.

"Park has been trying to work it out with KOC but it ended up only delaying the process," Sean Lim, an attorney with the Lee & Ko law firm representing Park, told a news conference later on Thursday.

"It is a very urgent situation since the deadline to submit final entries for Rio is July 18. We are trying to go through the hearing in June and get decisions from CAS by July 8."   Continued...

South Korea's former 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