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Ineligible for Olympics, swimmer Park Tae-hwan undecided on entering nat'l team trials

All Headlines 10:04 April 12, 2016

SEOUL, April 12 (Yonhap) -- Disgraced former Olympic swimming champion Park Tae-hwan remains undecided on entering the upcoming national team trials, after he has been ruled out of this year's Summer Games, his agency said Tuesday.

Park has registered to compete in the men's 100m, 200m, 400m and 1,500m freestyle races at the 88th Dong-A Swimming Competition starting on April 25 in Gwangju, some 330 kilometers south of Seoul, according to the meet organizers.

The competition will double as the second round of the national team trials for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics.

The deadline to register falls at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Swimmers may still withdraw after the deadline.

Park, who recently completed an 18-month ban for doping, is training in Australia, but there may be little point to him in racing in Gwangju because he is ineligible for the Olympics.

Under a Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) rule guiding national team operations, athletes who have served doping suspensions aren't allowed to represent the country for three years, starting on the day their bans end.

Park's suspension ended March 2 this year. The KOC had been under pressure to amend its rule, with critics pointing out that it would punish athletes twice for the same offense.

The KOC, however, decided last week not to make any rule change, saying it wouldn't create exceptions for particular athletes. It put Park, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist in the 400m freestyle, in limbo at age 26.

"Park hasn't decided if he will swim at the national team trials, even as he continues to train in Australia," said an official from Team GMP, Park's Seoul-based management firm. "We're waiting for him to make the call."

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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