First Day Of Freedom From Doping Ban But Park Tae-Hwan No Nearer Rio 2016 Olympics

Park Tae-hwan [Photo: Patrick B. Kraemer]

Park Tae-hwan, South Korean Olympic swimming champion of 2008, is living his first day of freedom from his doping ban but the Rio 2016 Olympic Games remain beyond him, a national ban that exceeds his international suspension still in place.

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Nowadays I have little sympathy for any adult athlete who fails a doping test. The typical athlete reaction to most positive tests is one of either:

Amazement ie I don’t know how that substance got into my body or

Not my fault ie tainted supplements or someone else (normally a medical person or coach) was responsible or tainted food eg Clenbuterol in Chinese/Spanish beef.

Nowadays adult athletes have access to all doping information and have no excuse not to monitor and question any substance introduced into their bodies through any means (orally, topically or via injection).

Based on this, we need lifelong bans for athletes that have a clear positive test for any banned substance. I am sure that to eradicate doping and restore sports brand values and reputations, the sporting bodies supported by WADA and country anti doping authorities will have to have to eventually adopt this strategy. So why not just enforce it now?

That would bring some consistency as well. Park gets 18 months plus an additional 3 years. Sun Yang get 3 months backdated ie nothing. Both use the classic doctors fault/didn’t know defence. No equity here and under the current regime, one must feel some sympathy for Park.

Craig Lord

Yes, BoetM, huge inconsistencies that add unfair to unfair. The reluctance to go for life is the fear of ‘false’ positive, including 13-year-old who test for something in a cough medicine because mum or dad were simply naive or unaware. That kind of fear has served to protect cheats far too often. And when it comes to big names, leniency is the name of the game in most cases, the wrong message sent in nearly all cases, bigger nations allowed to impose 1 year where smaller nations (in sports terms) watch an athlete slapped with 4 years for the same offence with not a word of protest from FINA/WADA/CAS/system.


Craig, I agree on some form of limited leniency for under 18 minors and I did use “adult athletes” a few times above. The risk is that state condoned or sponsored chemical performance enhancement of junior athletes would remain relativity risk free and in those cases long bans but perhaps not lifetime would be appropriate.

Also, potential lifetime bans for junior athletes, while harsh on the individual would ultimately protect the health of that athlete group by discouraging the state sponsored doping. With any endeavour health and safety should trump individual aspirations.

As a legal principle there will always be limited valid extenuating circumstances but image the care athletes and support staff would take if it was 3 years for a positive with extenuating circumstances and lifetime for a clear positive.

We probably wouldn’t be exchanging these posts and could focus exclusively on swimming.

Craig Lord

Yes BoetM, and I think with Juniors they need to start thinking in different ways to tackle that problem – cultural shift would be forced if you took the four strikes and whole junior nation out from ‘only on FINA-caught tests’ to “all positive tests’ – that might stop the sacrificial lambs that have surely been offered up in the system to mask the extend of the rot. Plus lifetime bans for coaches, doctors, others who are found to have supplied, administered encouraged doping in minors, combined with the threat of prosecution and a jail term for those adults as if now the case in Germany and a few other places.

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