(Reuters) – Park Tae-hwan finished fourth in the 200 meters freestyle final at the Brisbane grand prix on Saturday, as the former Olympic champion continues his preparations for the Rio Games despite a controversial doping ban excluding him from the Korean team.
Park, the first Korean to win an Olympic swimming medal when he won 400 freestyle gold in Beijing, completed an 18-month ban imposed by world governing body FINA in March after testing positive for testosterone ahead of the 2014 Asian Games.
However, under Korean Olympic Committee regulations, he was then subject to an additional three-year ban from the national team the day the FINA suspension expired, effectively ruling him out of the Rio Olympics.
Park took his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and is expected to be notified of the result this week, with the Korean team set to decide on the swim team on July 18.
The 26-year-old’s chances of forcing the KOC to repeal the ban were emboldened on Friday when a local court ruled that he was eligible for selection for the national team.
Park had lodged an injunction with Seoul Eastern District Court last month against the KOC and Korea Swimming Federation over the ban.
According to Yonhap news agency, the court said in its verdict that Park “has no reason for being disqualified based on Article 5 of the Korea Swimming Federation’s rule on the selection of national team swimmers”.
Despite the KOC ban, Park entered national swimming trials in April and won all four of his races in times quick enough for Olympic qualification.
At the 2008 Beijing Games, Park became the first Korean to win an Olympic swimming medal when he took gold in the 400 meters freestyle. He also picked up a silver in the 200 in Beijing, and was runner-up in both races in London in 2012.
He attributed the failed test to an injection he received at a local clinic where he said he was being treated for a skin complaint.
(Writing by Peter Rutherford; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)