Waiting with bated breath

The whole nation will be waiting with bated breath when a Malaysian badminton player’s “B” urine sample is opened this Wednesday in Oslo, Norway and tested.

THE whole nation will be waiting with bated breath when a Malaysian badminton player’s “B” urine sample is opened this Wednesday in Oslo, Norway and tested.

The results of that test will be known the same day.

The shuttler’s first urine sample, tested on Oct 1, was found to have traces of the banned substance dexamethasone – a steroid commonly used to aid an athlete’s rehabilitation process.

But while it is on the list of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) most important medications needed in a basic health system, it is a banned substance on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (Wada) list of prohibited substances.

According to Wada, a substance or method can make it to its list if it meets any two of the three criteria: That it has the potential to enhance or enhances sport performance; that it represents an actual or potential health risk to the athlete; that it violates the spirit of sport.

The substances are divided into various categories such as stimulants, anabolic agents, diuretics, narcotics and others. 

This prohibited list is updated every year. So certain substances can appear on the list one year but be taken out the next year.

It all depends on the review committee of Wada who will take into account the opinions of various medical experts. The list for a specified year is completed by October of the previous year. 

Dexamethesone comes under the category of Glucocorticoids and is banned in competition only. That means if it’s detected in the off season or before a competition, it wouldn’t have been considered unlawful.  

Tan Sri Dr Mani Jegathesan, the chairman of the Medical and Anti-doping Committee of the Olympic Council of Asia said that the substance is considered to affect performances indirectly.

“It might not directly affect performances like an anabolic steroid or EPO, but rather indirectly,” he said.

According to Dr Jegathesan, there are three categories of those who test positive for doping – deliberate, victim and innocent/ignorant.

A victim could have been given the drugs by their coach or official while those who fall under the innocent/ignorant category could have consumed the substance unknowingly.  

Under a strict liability rule, they will definitely be disqualified from the competition they participated in. What is more important, however, is the suspension they will receive from the sport.  

Those who are victims or ignorant can plead their case with the authorities. 

“Each case would have its own merits,” said Dr Jegathesan.

In the Malaysia shutller’s case, lets hope that the second test comes back negative. Former national player Sairul Amar Ayob also tested positive for the substance back in 2006, although his second text proved otherwise.

So there is still hope ...

> The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.
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