KUALA LUMPUR: World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei has been temporarily suspended from taking part in any tournaments until his doping case is brought before a Badminton World Federation (BWF) hearing, which will be decided soon.
On Saturday, Malaysians were greeted with the bad news when BAM were informed Chong Wei’s B sample was tested positive, confirming that there were traces of banned substance in his urine during a dope test taken after the semi-finals of the World Championships in Copenhagen on Aug 30.
The news came a day after Chong Wei returned home from Oslo on Friday. He had witnessed his B sample being opened on Wednesday at the Oslo Hospital University laboratory.
The Olympic Games two-time silver medallist Chong Wei has denied taking the drugs with an intention of cheating.
Dexamethasone is a type of steroid medication with anti-inflammatory effects that is usually used to aid an athlete’s rehabilitation.
Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) held a press conference to break the news but its working committee chairman on anti-doping, and BAM deputy president, Datuk Norza Zakaria did not name the athlete.
“I wish to inform that today, we have received the letter dated Nov 7 from BWF informing the results of the testing for sample B. The result confirms the existence of dexamethasone. The substance is not a performance enhancement drug,” said Norza.
“We also have been informed by BWF that this matter will be referred to the BWF doping hearing panel now and due process will take place. The panel will provide the time, date and location of the hearing.
“While waiting for the due process to happen, the player is under temporary suspension.”
The 32-year-old Chong Wei has not been entered for the last two Superseries - the China and Hong Kong Opens this month.
Norza said that they were unable to reveal the name although the world knows about it but assured that London-based lawyer Mike Morgan will do his best to defend the athlete during mitigation.
“We are bound by BWF regulations, para 14.4 on public disclosure. We plead to all to be patient and allow the due process to take place,” he said.
“BAM are working together with the Youth and Sports Minister on this and have hired a London-based lawyer from Morgan Sports Law LLP, who specialises in sports law to assist us in this matter.
“The player has denied taking the drugs and that is why we are going through all these processes to try and establish his innocence and defend him. He is an exceptional player. He has done a lot for the country and BAM. He deserves the best treatment.
“We have done our own investigation and we believe that he is innocent and based on this conclusion, we are providing all these assistance. We are hoping for a positive outcome during the hearing.”
Chong Wei faces a two-year ban but if he can prove his innocence, the panel could reduce his sentence. He could be let off with just a warning or he could face a three to six months ban.