South Korean swim star Park Tae-Hwan launched an appeal against his Rio Olympics ban on Thursday as officials refused to lift the suspension, which was imposed for doping.
Park’s legal team said they would ask the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to immediately start an arbitration process after the Korean Olympic Committee rejected the swimmer’s plea.
“And if the KOC fails to respond to a decision by the CAS, we would file a lawsuit in South Korean court,” Park’s lawyers said in a statement.
The multiple Olympic medallist completed an 18-month drug 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 de Janeiro under a KOC rule which prohibits athletes from representing South Korea for three years after the expiration of any doping ban.
“We’ve decided not to amend the protocol,” Han Jong-Hee told reporters earlier, following a meeting with fellow members of the KOC board of directors.
“The spirit of this protocol is to make sure that national athletes be armed with high morality.
“Doping runs against the spirit of fair play and it must be sternly dealt with, especially for the sake of educating young athletes,” Han said.
Park has argued that the KOC regulation is unfair and he pre-emptively filed an appeal with the CAS back in April.
The KOC said it would inform the Lausanne-based court of its decision and would respond to any subsequent mediation efforts.
‘Begged for a chance’
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 once the poster-boy of South Korean swimming — courted by advertisers and idolised by fans.
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.
On his competitive return to the pool last month, he easily won the 100m, 200m, 400m and 1,500m freestyle events at the 88th Dong-A meet, which doubles as a national trial.
His positive doping test was only revealed in January last year, and was initially blamed by Park’s management team on the incompetence of a doctor at the hospital where the swimmer was receiving treatment.