Park Tae-Hwan: Disgraced But Determined To Prove He Can Win ‘Fight Against Myself’

Yonyap started its report of Park Tae-hwan's third win in Gwangju at 2016 Olympic trials with the word 'Disgraced'

The first word of the Yonyap news agency take on Park Tae-hwan’s plea for clemency after three golds at Korean Olympic swim trials in Gwangju, sums up the mood and status of a man once revered at home: “Disgraced ormer Olympic swimming champion Park Tae-hwan said Wednesday that he can…”. The rest of that introduction to an article that outlines the swimmer’s fast efforts – 3:44.26 in the 400m freestyle atop a 1:46 in the 200 and 15:10 in the 1500m this week – reads “perform better at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics if he is given the opportunity to compete at the quadrennial event”.

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Let him swim, he is only racing some cheats who have yet to be caught!


I remember the first time I saw him swim: men 400 free final at 2007 Melbourne World Champs. He was I think the smallest among the finalist but his technique was outstanding. And he could kick too!
He was fourth and still a body length or somthing behind the leader Mellouli at the last turn, but after that turned on his turbo jet kick which reminded of how Thorpe flew past Hackett in 1998 Worlds. And this time Park passed Prilukov, Hackett and Mellouli for the win. He was never dominant in his events (I think being 6’0″ tall while his opponents were like 6’6″ or something could have something to do with it), but if he’s near the leaders on the final stretch, he’ll win it.


Gheko, if he swims in Rio, not only he would race against not yet to be caught cheats, but also already caught cheats (Yang, Mellouli).

Craig Lord

No, he’s not gheko – he’d also be racing clean athletes. don’t tar everyone with the same brush – it us unfair and means than none of it is worthwhile.

Craig Lord

Yes, hugely talented, aswimfan. A tragic example of 2 things: someone who did not need any enhancement to be a world-class swimmer … and another big reminder to each athlete ‘you and only you are responsible for what gets in your bloodstream’, so check, double check and have someone else do those two things, too. The taint is forever.

Personal Best

I get your point Craig, made in another article, about the responsibility of the athlete to not disrespect the efforts of maintaining a clean sport (said in light of Park appealing his ban, should he do so).

However, given the inconsistencies between federations’ processes and rules, it makes me wonder if allowing known drug cheats to compete at the Games opens the doors for successful appeals.

An athlete would (should) have a better case if they argue that an athlete with a comparable violation in a similar time frame is being allowed to compete due to whatever ridiculous rules or whims are at play.

I’m not saying it’s right, at all, but the comment above from aswimfan got me thinking about that.

FINA, or whomever, allowing tainted swimmers to compete is highly unfair to BOTH clean athletes and those cheats caught and banned.

It’s a horrible situation, really.


I am all for clean sport, most swimmers are clean but those who aren’t don’t seem to think it’s that much of a big deal, neither does fina!

Craig Lord

I understand PB, I favour the same the other way round: all who test positive for highest category offence should forfeit the right to race in the O Games that follows. That is covered by the four-year rule now in place but should be reinforced. No excuse cases, lifetime ban. 2nd offences all categories: lifetime ban. The current model is very far from zero-tolerant. Cheats are prospering and being welcomed back in, by the system, by federations and members of FINA, by FINA, IOC etc, by silent peers and media, among others. The culture is poor. It is one of tolerance and acceptance.


Such cynicism, gheko, in your first comment. Hard not to share the sentiment at times, admittedly, but it seems like you suggest we should throw in the towel.

Clearly he is not “only” racing some dopers.

While I choose to support clean athletics for some likely lofty idea of fair play, it is the sinister medical side of cheating–devastating health results, limited testing, no oversight, youngsters as guinea pigs–that brings a very material urgency to my support of zero tolerance efforts.

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