Malaysia's badminton star Lee Chong Wei has won 55 titles in a career that has spanned more than a decade, including two Olympic men's singles silver medals, but the 32-year-old may have scored his biggest victory yet.
Yesterday, the 2008 and 2012 Olympic men's singles runner-up was handed an eight-month ban for doping by the Badminton World Federation (BWF), following his appeal on April 11.
The ban has been backdated to Aug 30 last year, when he tested positive for Dexamethasone at the world championships in Denmark, which means he is free to compete from Friday.
In a huge boost for Malaysia's badminton hopes at the 28th South-east Asia (SEA) Games, Lee will be in the team that will do battle in Singapore from June 5 to 16.
In a press conference in Malaysia yesterday, Lee said: "I am of course relieved. I accept the result. I will review and be back, and maybe... will be stronger mentally for the competitions to come."
Malaysia's Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said that Lee will resume competition at the highest level after the sanction ends, adding that the former world No. 1 will compete in the Sudirman Cup in Dongguan from May 10 to 17, and the SEA Games.
Lee had said earlier that he will compete only in the men's team event at the Games, with the world No. 30 preferring to compete in events that will improve his world ranking in order to qualify for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, next year.
Khairy said: "I agree with (the Badminton Association of Malaysia) and Chong Wei that he needs to get back into form with as many competitions as possible, to ultimately qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro after being out of action for eight months."
In a statement, the BWF said the appeals panel "is convinced this is not a case of doping with intent to cheat".
While the panel found Lee "negligent", they decided on the eight-month sanction after the shuttler established how the banned substance had entered his body without his intent.
The substance, which did not enhance his performance, was "most likely the result of him consuming gelatin capsules containing cordyceps and that one or more of the gelatin capsules' casings were contaminated with Dexamethasone".
Lee was stripped of his world championship silver medal but allowed to keep his singles and team bronze from last year's Asian Games, where he played before the failed drugs test came to light.
"I can say I learnt something from these few months," added the soft-spoken shuttler.
"I will be more careful now."
This article was first published on April 28, 2015.
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