PUTRAJAYA - Datuk Lee Chong Wei's doping episode should be a lesson to all athletes, said Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
Former world number one Chong Wei, who failed a dope test at the World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, last August, was handed a retrospective eight-month ban, which ends on May 1.
Khairy said although the case eventually came to a close, athletes should always get the approval of the National Sports Institute (NSI), especially when taking supplements from other sources.
"Unfortunately for us, Chong Wei's case is not our last incident," said Khairy at a press conference at his office here yesterday.
He was referring to the case of national track cyclist Mohd Shah Firdaus Sahrom, who has been banned for 18 months for using dexamethasone (used to treat inflammatory conditions).
"I want to take this opportunity to urge every athlete to refer to NSI over the legality of every drug or supplement that they take," he added.
"The rules have always been there and athletes who receive supplements from outside sources must always get the nod from NSI first.
"Of course we will also review what has happened, not only in Chong Wei's case but (in the case of) every other athlete under the supervision of the NSI. All athletes must learn a lesson from this."
Khairy said in Chong Wei's case, the dexamethasone found in his urine sample most likely came from the consumption of contaminated cordyceps capsules.
"Cordyceps is a natural food product and a form of herbal supplement. Chong Wei has been taking it because his family believed it was beneficial for his health," said Khairy.
"Chong Wei has been following strict instructions from the NSI on what he can and can't take. The issue does not concern cordyceps itself but the capsules that served as its vessel.
"A case like this is really a freak accident," he added.
"The independent panel at the doping hearing believed that one or more of the gelatine capsule shells were contaminated by dexamethasone.
"I am glad Chong Wei is back and I want to thank the Badminton Association of Malaysia for standing by him all this while and the Malaysians fans who keep on encouraging and supporting him," said Khairy.