KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s singles shuttler Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin (pic) is in hot water for smoking during the Thomas Cup Finals.
It is learnt that Iskandar and Mohd Arif Abdul Latif have been questioned for lighting up – after the official hotel where the Malaysian team stayed in Bangkok had sent a bill demanding compensation for minor damage to the room they shared.
Iskandar and Arif were members of the Thomas Cup team that crashed out in the quarter-finals at the Finals last month. Iskandar played as the third singles but failed to deliver the winning point against Denmark in the group tie.
Arif has been dropped from the men’s doubles team headed by Cheah Soon Kit on Monday in a trimming exercise while world No. 50 Iskandar is currently the third-ranked player behind world No. 7 Lee Chong Wei and Lee Zii Jia (45) under head singles coach Datuk Misbun Sidek.
Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria had called for zero-tolerance for smoking and gambling in the national team since he took over last April.
In fact, one of the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) students was banned for three months for gambling.
The BAM had been strict on other disciplinary issues when they sent a memo to doubles shuttlers Goh V Shem and Goh Soon Huat for venting their frustrations on Instagram about the absence of VIPs during the bronze-medal match at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast in April.
It is learnt that the smoking issue was brought up during BAM’s coaching and training committee (CNT) meeting last week but it’s unclear whether a decision was made.
The top officials had a separate meeting with the players after that but it’s unsure whether the players had been left off the hook with a warning.
Yesterday, though, one of the BAM council members confirmed the players’ smoking incident had been deliberated at last week’s CNT meeting but said a decision has not been made.
He said the matter would be discussed during the Malaysian Open from June 26-July 1 at the Axiata Arena, where all the CNT members are expected to gather.
The chairman of the CNT is Datuk Ng Chin Chai, who took over the post from Norza at the last meeting.
“A decision on this smoking issue will be made after Hari Raya. This is a case of indiscipline as we have reminded our players many times about our stand on smoking and gambling,” he said.
“In the future, tests will be made to ensure that players are free from smoking. We’ve done this before but we’ll be more effective in the future.”
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