Doctor fined in park drug case

She breaches code in injecting swimming star with steroids, but claims victimisation

SEOUL • A South Korean doctor was fined one million won (S$1.19 million) yesterday for injecting swimming star Park Tae Hwan with steroids, an incident which resulted in an 18-month ban for the former Olympic champion.

The doctor, identified only by her surname Kim, was found guilty of breaching the medical code but cleared of the more serious charge of causing Park bodily harm.

Park, 25, faces missing next year's Rio Olympics after he failed a drugs test in September last year and was later banned for 18 months by world body Fina.

The doctor told the Seoul district court she had been "victimised as a scapegoat" ahead of the Fina hearing as the four-time Olympic medallist fought to clear his name.

She said that despite an earlier denial from his management team, Park was well aware he was receiving male hormone and vitamin injections when he visited her hospital in December 2013 and July 2014.

"After these two occasions, Park himself selected injections and I thought both his agents and Park were well in control" (of any potential doping problems), she said last month in her final testimony.

The doctor injected Park with the steroid Nebido to boost his testosterone levels, which were lower than average, her lawyer said.

Kim was fined for failing to log the injections on her patients' records, which is a breach of South Korea's medical code. She is free to continue her practice.

Park, who won 400m freestyle gold and 200m freestyle silver at the 2008 Olympics, tested positive for an anabolic steroid before last year's Asian Games in Incheon.

He was a poster boy for the Games, where the swimming events were held in the host city's Park Tae-Hwan Aquatics Centre, but he failed to win a title at home.

His positive doping test was revealed only in January.

It was initially blamed by Park's management team on the actions of the hospital.

But when he returned to South Korea after receiving his Fina ban in March, he made a public apology. He said it was "all my fault" and begged for forgiveness.

His ban ends in March 2016, which theoretically gives him time to prepare for the Rio Olympics.

But he may miss the Games because of a new Korean Olympic Committee rule.

The rule bars any athlete suspended for doping from competing with the national team for three years, which would sideline him until March 2019.

Park, South Korea's first Olympic swimming medallist, also won two silvers at the 2012 London Olympics, along with 400m world titles in 2007 and 2011.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 18, 2015, with the headline 'DOCTOR FINED IN PARK DRUG CASE'. Print Edition | Subscribe