SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea’s Olympic swimming champion Park Tae-hwan maintains he was not told about the contents of an injection that led to him to failing a doping test and says a doctor currently on trial for professional negligence said the shot was safe.
Park, who won 400 meters freestyle gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and is one of the country’s most popular athletes, tested positive for testosterone ahead of the Incheon Asian Games last September.
The 25-year-old attributed the failed test to an injection he received at a local clinic where he said he was being treated for a skin complaint and where he also had some vitamin shots and chiropractic treatment.
Park received an 18-month doping ban from swimming’ s world governing body FINA, leaving his chances of competing at next year’s Rio Olympics hanging by a thread.
The doctor who administered the injections has pleaded not guilty to charges of professional negligence during the ongoing trial, where Park took the stand earlier this week to testify.
The doctor, identified only by her surname Kim, has said through her lawyer that she had asked Park himself to verify whether the injection contained substances which were on WADA’s banned list, Yonhap news agency has reported.
Park’s management team issued a statement late on Thursday saying the swimmer had been assured the injection did not contain anything on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) list of banned substances.
“The athlete repeatedly asked whether the injection contained a banned substance and he believed the doctor when she said the substances are found in the body so they are not related to doping,” Team GMP said in the statement.
“There was no precise explanation about what was contained in the injection when it was administered.”
Yonhap reported that Park testified he did not know the injection contained testosterone, or that the male growth hormone was on the list of banned substances.
“I take pride in the fact that I am the face of South Korean swimming and that my name is known around the world,” Yonhap quoted Park as saying at the trial. “Why would I knowingly take such an injection?”
Writing by Peter Rutherford; Reporting by Oh Seung-yun; Editing by Julian Linden