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Korea Olympic Committee turns down Park's Rio appeal

South Korea's Olympic swimming champion Park Tae-hwan reacts as he answers reporters' questions during a news conference at a hotel in Seoul ...

South Korea's Olympic swimming champion Park Tae-hwan reacts as he answers reporters' questions during a news conference at a hotel in Seoul March 27, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/Files
South Korea's Olympic swimming champion Park Tae-hwan reacts as he answers reporters' questions during a news conference at a hotel in Seoul March 27, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/Files

SEOUL (Reuters) - The Korea Olympic Committee has turned down swimmer Park Tae-Hwan's appeal to overturn a controversial doping suspension and earn selection for the national team at the Rio de Janeiro Games.

Former Olympic champion Park, who has already served an 18-month doping ban imposed by swimming's world governing body FINA, has been fighting to repeal a KOC regulation that tacked on an additional three-year suspension which would rule him out of Rio.

The 26-year-old South Korean lodged a case with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) but instructed the Switzerland-based tribunal not to proceed until he had a definitive answer from the KOC on the ruling.

The KOC said after "deep discussion" among its board directors, the rule would remain in force, leaving Park's last hopes of competing at Rio resting in the hands of CAS.

"The regulation for the selection of national team representatives was made with the aim of demanding a high level of morality of our national team athletes and considering the dignity required of a public figure," the KOC said in a statement carried by South Korean television channels on Thursday.

"Doping is against the fair play spirit, a basic requirement of athletes, and we decided that a rigorous response was needed for educational purposes to young athletes."

Park won gold in the 400 metres freestyle at the 2008 Beijing Games to become the first Korean to win an Olympic swimming medal but his reputation was shattered when he tested positive for testosterone ahead of the 2014 Asian Games.

Park was expected to respond to the KOC's ruling at a media conference later on Thursday.

(Reporting by Jee Heun Kahng; Writing by Ian Ransom; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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