NSI chief advices athletes to remain focused

PETALING JAYA: Keep your eyes on the prize!

That’s the advice from National Sports Institute (NSI) chief executive officer Datuk Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz to Malaysian athletes yet to see action at the Incheon Asian Games.

This comes in the wake of wushu exponent Tai Cheau Xuen’s failed dope test at the Games.

Cheau Xuen, who won the country’s first gold medal in the nanquan and nandao all-round event on Sept 20, tested positive for the banned stimulant sibutramine.

Sibutramine is an ingredient widely used as a dietary supplement to control weight gain, but it is banned in many countries as it can reportedly cause heart attack and stroke.

The 23-year-old has been expelled from the Games and is set to be stripped of the medal.

“We call on the athletes in Incheon to stay focused on the task at hand. We have three days of competition left and their main concern should be on their events,” said Ramlan.

“We don’t want them to be engrossed about the doping issue as our chef de mission (Datuk Danyal Balagopal Abdullah) and the relevant authorities in the Malaysian contingent are handling the matter.”

This, however, is not the first time that a national athlete has been involved in a doping incident at the Asiad.

In 2002, sepaktakraw players Firdaus Abdul Ghani, Aznan Raslan and Hanif Azman were expelled from the Busan Asian Games after failing a random dope test. The trio were handed a two-year ban for knowingly consuming cough mixture containing the banned substance morphine.

“Our athletes have been educated, warned and are well aware of the requirements of being a sports person. They know that if they follow the rules and take proper precautions then, regardless of any issues (like doping) cropping up, they would be above reproach,” he said.

“The stakes are high and we are counting on the athletes still competing to put this matter behind them and give their best.”

Malaysia have so far managed to win three golds – still five short of their eight-gold target.

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