Olympic and world champion Sun Yang said on Sunday that he will miss South Korea’s star swimmer Park Tae Hwan, who received a doping ban, at the Kazan worlds in July.
“I think I will miss him,” said Sun after winning the men’s 800-meter free at the National Swimming Championships, which also serves as the qualifier of the Kazan worlds. “There’s nothing to hide. I trust him. He is my idol in swimming and I know him very well.”
“A lot of people question him, and some even doubt his previous results, but I always trust him. He is a great swimmer like Japan’s Kitajima Konsuke, who made history for Asian swimming,” he said.
Park was South Korea’s first swimming Olympic champion by winning the men’s 400m free at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
Park tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid at an out-of-competition control before the Asian Games on Sept. 3 last year. The 25-year-old was banned for 18 month and the ban expires on March 2, 2016.
Sun had similar experience with Park. The National Championships is the first competition Sun take part in after the news broke by the end of last year that he served a three-month ban in 2014 after testing positive for the banned stimulant trimetazidine on May 17.
“I feel sorry for Park,” said Sun, who proved his innocence with sufficient evidence in July’s hearing that he was not aware of the substance was prohibited and took the prescription drug Vasorel to treat a heart condition. “I hope I can compete with him at the Rio Olympic Games. The Olympic 400m free will be less fierce without him. I hope he can come back.”