Swimming: South Korea 2008 Olympic champ Park Tae-hwan banned for 18 months

LAUSANNE (AFP) - South Korea's four-time Olympic swimming medallist Park Tae-hwan was banned for 18 months by world swimming body FINA on Monday for failing a dope test.

The 25-year-old tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid at an out-of-competition control before the Asian Games on September 3 last year.

The ban for his first doping violation will run until March 2, 2016 which will in theory allow him to compete at the Rio Olympics later that year, although he will miss this year's world championships in Kazan, Russia from July 17 to August 2.

All Park's results after September 3, 2014, have also been cancelled which means handing back his three bronze medals, which he won at last year's Asian Games in Incheon, Korea.

The positive test sent shock waves through the sport in South Korea where prosecutors last month announced charges against a doctor for giving Park an injection without disclosing it contained the banned steroid testosterone.

The swimming star dubbed "Marine Boy" blamed the injection - administered last July - for a positive drug test on urine samples he provided in September, prior to the Asian Games.

Park - who has six Asian Games titles to his name - won 400m freestyle gold and 200m freestyle silver at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, becoming South Korea's first Olympic swimming medallist.

He also won silver in both events at the 2012 London Olympics, along with 400m gold in the world championships in 2007 and 2011.

But Park, who began swimming aged five in a bid to control his asthma, has struggled to repeat that form and failed to win a title at his home Asian Games in September, competing in a pool that bore his name.

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