January 30, 2015 12:06
The doping scandal involving swimmer Park Tae-hwan took a new twist on Thursday after an acquaintance of the athlete's said Park actively sought the services of the dubious clinic he is suing.
Prosecutors on Thursday questioned a broker offering beauty consulting to wealthy clients and entertainers and hooking them up with clinics.
The woman told prosecutors that Park asked her through a mutual acquaintance to "look for a clinic" for as yet obscure reasons and that she set him up in November of 2013 with the clinic that injected him with the banned drug Nebido.
Park has claimed that the clinic offered him free treatments and that he received the injection without knowing it contained a banned substance.
Park's agency Team GMP in a statement on Monday claimed the swimmer was given the injection in July last year while he was receiving a free chiropractic treatment at the suggestion of the clinic. Team GMP said Park double-checked with the doctor if the injection contained any banned substances. The swimmer is suing the clinic after he failed a doping test.
But if the broker's testimony is true, it raises the question why Park sought treatments in a clinic specializing in anti-aging and skin care. One staffer at the clinic said, "We did not approach Park Tae-hwan and we don't need the publicity."
A prosecution official said, "We are checking the woman's testimony. It will take more time for us to wrap up our investigation."
A doctor at the clinic claimed earlier that Park received injections of Nebido, widely known as injectable testosterone to treat erectile dysfunction, not only in July of last year, but in December 2013 as well. He also claimed that he informed Park of the length of time the testosterone would remain in his body but did not know it was a banned substance.
But it is also unclear why the doctor would have been unaware that testosterone is one of the best-known banned substances.
The swimmer has refused to comment on whether he received the injection in December of 2013 as well, saying only the investigation will "reveal the truth."
Testosterone is one of the best-known anabolic androgenic steroids, which are on the list of substances banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
The focus of the investigation will now revolve around whether Park sought the injections after the doctor told him what they contained.
Meanwhile, there are also suspicions that Park received injections of growth hormones in addition to Nebido. Growth hormones are also banned by WADA. Park tested positive only for testosterone in a test WADA conducted on Sept. 3 last year.
The incident demonstrates the social impact that can be caused by a failure to properly regulate athletes. Team GMP is headed by Park's father, while his older sister and brother in law also work for the agency. This may have created problems in keeping Park on the tight leash some top athletes seem to require.
Swimming officials say Team GMP made a grave mistake by leaking Park's doping test results before he even appeared before FINA, the international swimming governing body.
Park reportedly hired a lawyer to prepare for the doping hearing in Switzerland next month.
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