Badminton: Lin wants rival Lee back in the game

Badminton: Lin wants rival Lee back in the game
GOOD FOR THE SPORT: Lin (above) says Lee's participation in the sport is needed and that fans enjoy their on-court rivalry.

BEIJING - The Malaysian is his great nemesis, but China's badminton superstar Lin Dan says he hopes world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, who is embroiled in a doping scandal, will be able to return to the sport soon.

"I hope that this great player comes back to the court as soon as possible," Lin said, referring to Lee, according to China's official Xinhua news agency.

"Not only does Malaysia need him, but the whole badminton world needs him."

Lee has been suspended from competition after testing positive for the banned anti-inflammatory dexamethasone, and could be barred for up to two years.

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) said on Tuesday that he is suspended "due to an apparent anti-doping regulation violation" while a panel considers whether he has committed an offence.

Lee said the turn of events felt like a "bad dream", adding that there was "no way" he could have taken the drug outside the auspices of Malaysia's National Sports Institute.

Lin and Lee have long been rivals despite Lin's frequent absences due to repeated injuries. The two players have faced off 33 times since 2004, according to Xinhua, including several Olympic and World Championship finals.

"I hope Lee's scandal isn't real," Lin was quoted as saying on Wednesday. "I still want to see the Lin-Lee rivalry, those games always bring great fun for the fans."

Meanwhile, Malaysia's Youth and Sports Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin, has lambasted one of the nation's former shuttlers, Razif Sidek, for alleging that Lee had been using dexamethasone for a long time.

Mr Khairy said the allegation was unsubstantiated and urged people not to speculate until the BWF hearing, which is expected to be held early next month, takes place.

"This is a serious allegation which I find disturbing," the minister said, adding that if Razif - part of the legendary Sidek family - wanted to make such a serious allegation, he must provide evidence.

He also noted that Lee had asked his lawyer to draft a letter to demand that Razif retract the allegation and not repeat it.

Mr Khairy also urged fans and members of the public not to jump to any conclusion yet.

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