Suspended Lee Chong Wei eyes SEA Games spot

Suspended Lee Chong Wei eyes SEA Games spot

KUALA LUMPUR - Former Badminton world number one Lee Chong Wei is confident he will be cleared from a failed dope test and will find a place in the Malaysian squad for the Southeast Asian Games in June.

The twice Olympic silver medallist is provisionally banned and awaiting a verdict from Badminton World Federation (BWF) after testing positive for the anti-inflammatory drug dexamethasone during the world championships in August.

Lee, 32, faced a hearing in Amsterdam last week but was confident he will receive good news in the next two weeks from the sport's world governing body and will take part in the June 5-16 SEA Games in neighbouring Singapore.

"I'll only play in the team event as the BAM (Badminton Association of Malaysia) plan to send me for a tournament which will clash with the SEA Games' (singles) competition," he was quoted as saying by Malaysian media on Saturday.

"If I'm eligible to compete, the team will be counting on me to deliver the first point. I hope to play the crucial role of boosting the team's morale."

Lee, Malaysia's favourite sporting son having also won four Commonwealth Games golds and finishing runner-up at the world championships three times, could face a two-year ban for the failed dope test.

However, he reiterated his determination to be back on court next month to begin the qualifying process for next year's Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

"It's important for me to start collecting points through the world ranking tournaments in order to improve on my position," said Lee, currently ranked 30th in the world.

"It's the Olympics that matter. There's no time to be wasted come this May 1 when the one-year Rio 2016 qualification period commences."

News of Lee's failed test late last year shocked the country, which was also rocked by Tai Cheau Xuen becoming the first Malaysian Asian Games gold medallist to fail a drugs test after the Wushu exponent was kicked out of Incheon in October for testing positive for sibutramine.

Keen to avoid any repeats, Malaysia had said their SEA Games contingent of around 500 athletes must all undergo doping tests before competing in Singapore at the biennial multi-sport Games.

But the team's chef de mission Seri Mohamad Norza Zakaria said on Friday only 30 per cent of the squad had been tested.

"Associations and coaches should know the importance of the athletes undergoing the screening and adhering to the schedule," he was quoted as saying by Bernama.

"We want Malaysia to have zero doping cases." (Reporting by Patrick Johnston; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

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