SAN DIEGO -- The Olympic-style drug testing program being used in the World Baseball Classic claimed its first victim as Korean pitcher Myung Hwan Park was disqualified from the event less than an hour after testing positive.
Park made one relief appearance for the Korean team, pitching two innings of scoreless, hitless ball, while hitting a batter, walking two and striking out three. By virtue of the rules governing the tournament, Park would be banned from international competition for the next two years. If he tests positively a second time, Park is banned for life.
Officials from the Korean team were not available for comment on Saturday, but according to Gene Orza of the Major League Players Association, there might be extenuating circumstances and the "positive" test conceivably could be appealed and overturned.
"There is actually a thought out there that the Korean who did test positive, tested positive because he failed to properly process a therapeutic use exemption," Orza said prior to Saturday afternoon's game between Cuba and the Dominican Republic at PETCO Park. "I don't know if that's a fact. Appeals come after the event."
Orza said he and Rob Manfred of Major League Baseball were informed of the failed drug test and, "[Park] was removed from the tournament within an hour of the positive test being sent."
"It turns out that the positive maybe shouldn't be regarded as a positive, I don't know," he said. "I'm not saying that's the case, but I know there is some suggestions that he was under a doctor's care and may have been prescribed something that was legal in Korea, but is not legal here. I don't know if that's a fact or not."
The Classic drug policy is tailored to rules that govern international sporting events and was negotiated and originally signed two years ago by Major League Baseball, the MLB Players Association and the International Baseball Federation.
The news came on the eve of Korea's semifinal rematch with Japan on Saturday night at 10 p.m. ET. The winner plays the victor of Saturday's other semifinal game between Cuba and the Dominican Republic for the inaugural Classic championship on Monday night at 9 p.m. ET.
Any Major League player testing positive during this event would not be subject to sanction this season under MLB's revised drug policy that recently went into effect. Under that new "three strikes and you're out" policy, a player would miss 50 games for the first positive test, 100 games for the second and receive a lifetime ban (with right of appeal) for the third.
Barry M. Bloom and Jim Street are national reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.