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S. Korea to cooperate with Park appeal against Rio ban

South Korea’s Olympic committee said Thursday it would fully cooperate with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after swim star Park Tae-Hwan appealed against his Rio ban over doping.

But a spokesman declined to say whether the committee would abide by any CAS ruling on Park’s case.

The multiple Olympic medallist has sought “an urgent ruling” from the Lausanne-based CAS by July 8 — the deadline for South Korea to select their Rio swimming team.

Park completed an 18-month suspension in April after testing positive for an anabolic steroid in out-of-competition controls before the 2014 Asian Games.

But he remains barred from competing in Rio under a Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) rule which prohibits athletes from representing South Korea for three years after the expiration of any doping ban.

“Once the CAS begins its review, representatives for Park Tae-Hwan and the KOC will have to appear,” a KOC spokesman told AFP.

“When we receive a message about that, we will cooperate fully and accordingly,” he said.

Should Park’s appeal be upheld, the spokesman was non-committal on what action the KOC would take.

“We will first have to see the final ruling by the CAS and then decide on the necessary steps,” he stressed.

The CAS does not have the power to force national sports bodies to follow its decisions, although court officials report compliance with about 90 percent of rulings.

Park’s legal team argues that the KOC regulation is unfairly punitive and has pre-emptively sought an injunction from a district court in Seoul to make any CAS ruling binding on the national committee.

Park has repeatedly begged for a chance to compete in what would be his third, and probably last, Olympics — at one point getting down on his hands and knees during a press conference.

The 26-year-old was the poster boy of South Korean swimming — courted by advertisers and idolised by fans — before his positive test was revealed in January last year.

He won 400m freestyle gold and 200m freestyle silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and two silver medals at the 2012 London Olympics, as well as 400m world titles in 2007 and 2011.

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