Park Tae-hwan To Attend Feb. 27 Hearing: Hospital ‘Didn’t Know Testosterone Banned’

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

FINA, the international governing body of swimming, has set a February 27 date for hearing the case of South Korea’s first olympic swimming champion Park Tae-hwan, who tested positive for a banned substance last September

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FINA, the international governing body of swimming, has set a February 27 date for hearing the case of South Korea’s first olympic swimming champion Park Tae-hwan, who tested positive for a banned substance last September



I’m more likely than most, it seems, to give an athlete the benefit of the doubt. (I think Fred Bousquet made an honest mistake for one.) But my reaction to this one is “Are you kidding me?” How do you claim testosterone is legal use for anyone who doesn’t have an extremely documented record of a handful of very specific and somewhat rare men’s medical conditions? Hard to believe a doctor treating one of South Korea’s two great sporting heroes of the 21st century would do anything careless about his charge to not check and understand the rules of care that apply to elite athletes. IMO, the suspension here should not allow Park to compete in Rio.

I’m also troubled if a federation attempts to use Article 10 to shield dopers. Remember the generations of 13 year old girls in East Germany told they were getting ‘vitamin shots’.


If athletes are responsible for their choices and making sure that they only given allowable substances then shouldn’t the athlete also be responsible for advising the doctor about where to find information about what is prohibited? Simply asking the doctor to confirm it is not prohibited is not enough. He should at the least have directed the doctor to the WADA database and asked the doctor to confirm that none of the ingredients were on the list.

(I am assuming that as it was a local hospital the doctor would not be an expert in the rules surrounding elite athletes.)

Craig Lord

Quite beachmouse. Among many aspects of interest, It will be fascinating to see what follows in terms of the doctor being properly identified and then what action is taken against him, if any, given that any WADA ban is somewhat pointless if this is genuinely a local hospital doctor who has nothing to do with and no knowledge of sport and sports medicine and anti-doping rules, as is suggested.

Craig Lord

Yes, Fishi, there is a duty of care that goes athlete to doctor in circumstances where the athlete knows that his knowledge of sport and what athletes can and cannot take is greater than the doctor’s (Park’s team appears to b arguing that it did take care – and then accepted ‘repeated assurances’ that the substance in the injection would be ok). What’s not clear why no-on on the swimmer’s side asked ‘what is in the injection?’ and if then the answer was ‘testosterone’ or ‘steroid’ etc, then clearly, the alarm bell would have been well and truly sounded in Park’s mind. We don’t yet know what level of trust the swimmer had a right to place in this doctor, given that we don’t know much at all about him and why the swimmer ended up before him and in what circumstances. The latter sound strange on what we’ve heard so far. Only the kind of detail we saw in the Efimova case once judgment is passed will give us the fuller picture of what happened in Park’s case.

lanfranco badia

If a Russian is accused of doping, everything is ‘true’, if instead a famous athlete, a Sun, a Park, there are some doubts, they are suspended only for three months when there are no competitions … and given that the Korean swimmer is an important athlete he will be suspended for a few months, you’ll see, like Mellouli – and we see what happened in the Cesar Cielo case. Russians dope, the others don’t – that’s the farce in all of this.
[This comment has been edited for comprehension – sorry Lanfranco, trying to help make clear the point you’re making in English]


I think the other issue is the potential lasting effects of the injection. There is evidence that anabolic steroids, even though undetectable after period of time, might still provide benefit. What if this injection was meant to just get him through a tough training period in the quadrennial periodization cycle? Maybe he already got the benefit he desired. I think that potential lasting benefits, mistake or not, need to be considered.


I believe different variants of testosterone are listed in the first group of banned items on WADA list, in class S1. I don’t think he is going to get away with a lenient punishment as was given out to Sun, in which case the heart stimulant was only class S6 at the time of the event.

Craig Lord

LanFranco, your point is understood but not accepted. There was much to be unhappy about in some of the cases you mention and many others and this site has pointed those out a long the way, each case to be determined in its own right, each case is different. Tha said, the rules ought to be applied as equally as possible, of course.

There is inconsistency in the treatment of similar cases, inconsistencies in length of sentences and in other regards in the anti-doping regime.

If you look at leniency, then quite clearly you must note the 16-month bar of Efimova which allows the swimmer back into the sport just over a year after she last competed – for one of the highest categories of offence) and in time to defend world titles this summer even though her ‘mistake’ or whatever else one may wish to call it, was absolutely her own fault.

I realise that you believe that the contents of the ARD documentaries about Russian doping are false. My belief and indeed understanding is that they are not. And there is more to come – and there is an inquiry to deliver a verdict by the close of the year. Russia is treated no more and no less fairly or harshly than anyone else – but it does have a terrible count on its hands, one that many in swimming also see as farcical along with FINA’s award to Putin despite all that is going on in the wider world and a background [including sanctions and much else over Ukraine and this nightmare from a world FINA should have steered well clear of – that should have sounded alarm bells in the ears of the two foolish folk responsible [yes, just two men, who pressed ahead with the FINA honour without reference to the full Bureau as required in FINA rules but are not alone in blame given that res of the Bureau should stand up for the rules of the sport, for athletes – and for the sake of being counted as worthy of the positions they hold] and that dreadful record of doping across very many sports in Russia.


Testosterone at the foot doctor? Lol.


Five more doping violations found in Russian racewalking community: IAAF is still looking into the magic time travel shoes (model year shoes 2014 in pictures allegedly for 2012 event) that would show that another banned athlete did not compete in a major Russian racewalking event when she was under doping ban.

The issues with doping and Russian track and field manage to predate the Medvelev presidency. Sad to see them seem to bleed over into other sports like swimming.

Craig Lord

Understandable mirth – Blah – though testosterone is actually used in the treatment of foot ulcers 🙂

Steve Levy

Are there many areas of the planet where local inhabitants don’t know that hormone injections shouldn’t be part of an Olympian’s diet?

Other things from a variety of Korean news sites:

“Nebido is more widely known as injectable testosterone to treat erectile dysfunction.”

“The doctor told prosecutors that he first gave Park the injection in December of 2013 and handed over paperwork to the athlete’s manager identifying the drugs. He added he was told there were no problems after a doping test conducted in February 2014.”

“He therefore had no qualms about administering Nebido a second time in July of that year, he added.”

“The agency was notified of the test result in December and did not explain why it kept the information private for a month.”

Craig Lord

Thanks for that Steve. Catching up after a day of focus on matters far more grave than doping in sport…


Indeed quite ridiculous to think that any doctor is not aware that testosterone is forbidden to athletes…
And i was naive enough to think that Park was a victim in this story… Well i strongly doubt it now!
Unfortunately the stories keep repeating: the champion will always be the one who gets under the radar, until we find out he was cheating… I hope to be wrong (and I’m sure Craig will explain me why), but right now I can’t really trust elite swimmers, especially ”the ones” overperforming and smashing the rest of the field with huge margins…


Adding to the chorus: the story seems fishy. The idea that a doctor wouldn’t know that testosterone is banned is ludicrous. The idea that Park, a national hero in Korea and one of the most famous athletes in that country, would not have a dedicated sports doctor intimately versed in the regulations is equally ludicrous. Sorry, I don’t buy it. Park at least has an obviously excellent track record as a swimmer and has never had even a hint of controversy around him. I’m very willing to give him the benefit of a doubt, but we need a better story than this.

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