Chong Wei under suspension until BWF hears his case

Chong Wei under suspension until BWF hears his case
Black and white: Norza gesturing as he announces the suspension of Chong Wei although he did not specifically name the nation’s No.1 badminton player at BAM office in Bukit Kiara. Looking on is BAM general manager Kenny Goh (left). — AZHAR MAHFOF / The Star

KUALA LUMPUR - World No.1 Datuk Lee Chong Wei has been temporarily suspended from taking part in tournaments until the Badminton World Federation (BWF) hears his doping case.

Yesterday, Malaysians were greeted with the bad news when it was declared that Chong Wei's B sample was tested positive, confirming that there were traces of a banned substance in his urine 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. On Wednesday, he had witnessed his B sample being opened at the Oslo Hospital University laboratory.

The two-time Olympic silver medallist has denied taking the drug to enhance his performance.

Dexamethasone is a type of steroid medication with anti-inflammatory effects, which is usually used to aid an athlete's rehabilitation.

Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) held a press conference to break the news but its chairman of anti-doping working committee, Datuk Norza Zakaria, did not name the athlete.

"I wish to inform that today (yesterday), 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-enhancing 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 BAM was unable to reveal the shuttler's name but assured that he would do his best to defend the athlete.

"We are bound by BWF regulations, paragraph 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 Mike Morgan from Morgan Sports Law LLP, who specialises in sports law, to assist us on this matter.

"The player has denied taking the drug 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 assistance. We are hoping for a positive outcome," Norza said.

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-month ban.

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