Agnel gets Olympic spot despite failure

PARIS • France's Yannick Agnel will be allowed to defend his 200m freestyle Olympic title despite failing to meet the French swimming federation's (FFN) qualifying requirements, but there will be no reprieve for South Korean swimmer Park Tae Hwan.

Agnel was ruled to have come third behind Jeremy Stravius and Jordan Pothain in the final at the French championships, which served as the Olympic trials, after failing to touch the finishing pad correctly.

Only the first two qualified for August's Olympics but Pothain has decided to swim the 400m freestyle instead, opening the way for Agnel to compete in Rio.

"It's up to him to decide his programme. He's got a reserved spot on the 200m freestyle," FFN technical director Jacques Favre said. "Jordan Pothain has decided to swim the 400m freestyle and not the 200m, that's his strategy."

Pothain said last week that he would be ready to pull out of the 200m freestyle to make room for Agnel after TV footage appeared to show that Agnel had touched home in second place.

But Park, who completed an 18-month doping ban last month, will be a major absentee in Rio, after the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) opted against amending a rule that tacks three more years onto doping suspensions.

Park won gold in the 400m freestyle at the 2008 Beijing Games to become the first South Korean to win an Olympic swimming medal.

He added silver in the 200m in Beijing, and was second in both events in London four years later.

His image as the golden boy of Korean sport was shattered early last year, however, when it emerged that he had tested positive for testosterone ahead of the Incheon Asian Games in September 2014.

The 26-year-old received an 18-month doping ban from swimming's world governing body Fina which expired on March 2. But under KOC regulations he must wait a further three years before he can be considered for national selection again.

"It is not appropriate to amend national team selection regulations for a specific person," the KOC said in a news release.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 08, 2016, with the headline 'Agnel gets Olympic spot despite failure'. Print Edition | Subscribe