Park Tae-hwan, Olympic champion swimmer, banned 18 months

Park Tae-hwan

Four-time South Korean Olympic swimming medalist Park Tae-hwan was banned 18 months for a positive drug test, a suspension that will allow him to return to competition before the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Park, 25, tested positive for testosterone on Sept. 3. His 18-month suspension will be backdated to that positive test, making him eligible to return in March 2016.

He can appeal the ruling.

What complicates matters, and could put his 2016 Olympic eligibility in question, is a Korean Olympic Committee rule that could keep him from being placed on a national team until 2019, according to

Park won 400m freestyle gold and 200m freestyle silver at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, becoming the first South Korean Olympic swimming medalist. He won silver medals in the same events at London 2012.

If Park misses the World Championships in August, it will leave one fewer rival to Ryan Lochte in the 200m freestyle and Japan’s Kosuke Hagino and China’s Sun Yang in the 400m free.

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