Sport Tearful doping apology from SKorean swimming star

Tearful doping apology from SKorean swimming star

South Korean swimmer Park Tae-Hwan (L) stands before the media during a press conference in Seoul on March 27, 2015. Disgraced South Korean swim star Park Tae-Hwan made an emotional public apology over his failed doping test on March 27, fighting back tears and begging to be forgiven
South Korean swimmer Park Tae-Hwan (L) stands before the media during a press conference in Seoul on March 27, 2015. Disgraced South Korean swim star Park Tae-Hwan made an emotional public apology over his failed doping test on March 27, fighting back tears and begging to be forgiven

 (AA) – Park Tae-hwan, South Korea’s most successful swimmer of all time, offered a tearful public apology Friday after being hit with an 18-month doping suspension earlier this week.

The 25-year-old faced a press conference in central Seoul for the first time since Monday’s announcement by world swimming federation FINA.

Park tested positive for testosterone when samples were taken from the former Olympic champion last September ahead of the Asian Games in South Korea — his punishment was imposed retroactively so that he will be eligible to compete again in March 2016.

But even if the swimmer is able to maintain his fitness for the 2016 Rio Games, Korean Olympic Committee rules make Park ineligible to represent his country for three years after completing the 18-month ban.

The committee did say this week, however, that it is reviewing the additional punishment — and the head of the Korea Swimming Federation suggested that an apology should come before any reprieve.

Park followed that advice Friday, saying he wanted “to apologize to the people for causing so much trouble with this unacceptable incident.”

South Korea’s only winner of an Olympic swimming gold medal in history repeated a previous claim that a Seoul doctor had offered false reassurances when injecting him with the banned substance last year.

The doctor faces a trial next month on professional negligence charges, while Park is left to contemplate his future.

While admitting to his own fault “regardless of reasons,” he also conceded that it would be difficult to consider quitting now.

“Swimming is everything to me. It’s all I’ve ever done and not being able to compete is hugely shocking,” Park said. “It’s as if my whole life has been taken away from me in an instant. It makes it difficult for me to think about retirement at this point.”

With FINA’s suspension, the local poster boy was stripped of the six Incheon Asian Games medals he won at the Munhak Park Tae-hwan Aquatics Center last year.

Park retains a host of other titles, including his gold-medal winning victory over 400 meters at the 2008 Beijing Games.