South Korean Olympic committee reaffirms Park ban

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) South Korea's Olympic committee reaffirmed its decision to ban former Olympic swimming champion Park Tae-hwan from competing at the Rio de Janeiro Games even though he finished an 18-month doping suspension in March.

The Korean Olympic Committee upheld on Thursday its decision not to change its rules that block athletes from the national team for an additional three years after the end of their doping suspensions.

Park's hopes of competing in Rio were now in the hands of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which will review his complaint that the KOC rules were excessive.

Lee & Ko, a Seoul-based law firm representing Park, said the CAS will be able to reach a decision by early July, before the July 18 entry deadline for swimmers at the Rio Games.

''Sacrificing an athlete to set an example for doping is going too far,'' an emotional Park In-ho, Park's father, said in a news conference in Seoul. The KOC, in a statement hours earlier, said its tough stance on drug cheats has educational value.

Park's legal representatives said the KOC would be obligated to follow the decision by CAS if it rules in favor of Park. But an official from the KOC, who didn't want to be named, citing office rules, said it wasn't clear whether the committee has to necessarily abide by the court's ruling.

''Our position is that the final call still belongs to us,'' he said. ''There might be risks for us if we decide to go against the decision by the CAS, and we will be able to evaluate those risks after they issue the ruling.''

Park, aged 26, came off an 18-month ban in March after testing positive for testosterone in an out-of-competition doping test. He became a national hero after winning the 400-meter freestyle at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He also won silver in Beijing, and added two more silvers at the 2012 London Games. He remains the only South Korean to win an Olympic medal in swimming.

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