Lee is cleared for games

Lee is cleared for games
Malaysian badminton star Lee Chong Wei, at a press conference yesterday, had contemplated retirement from the sport if he got a two-year ban. Now that he can return to competition from Friday, he can again set sights on fulfilling his dream to clinch a gold medal in next year’s Rio Olympics.

He might have been slapped with an eight-month ban yesterday but, come June, Malaysian shuttler Lee Chong Wei can take part in the SEA Games in Singapore.

This, after the Badminton World Federation ruled yesterday that his was "not a case of doping with intent to cheat" and backdated the ban to the date of his sample collection at last August's world championships.

This means the 32-year-old, who had tested positive for the anti-inflammatory substance dexamethasone, can compete again from Friday.

"I'm quite happy with the result and, having waited for six or seven months now, I can (finally) play in the Sudirman Cup and the SEA Games," Lee said at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, in a YouTube video posted by Malaysian newspaper The Star.

"Maybe life's like that, it's (full of) ups and downs and I can learn something from these few months."

The former world No. 1's ranking has sunk to 30th and is keen to make up for lost time now.

One of his immediate priorities is the May 10-17 Sudirman Cup in Dongguan, China. It is one of the qualifying meets for next year's Rio Olympics, with Lee aiming to win his first gold.

The Olympic Council of Malaysia expressed its delight at the verdict after Lee had reportedly contemplated retirement if he was handed a two-year ban.

"It has been a nightmare for him and for all of us," its secretary-general Sieh Kok Chi told The Straits Times yesterday.

"We are very happy that his ordeal is over and he can now play again (from May 1) and we hope he can take part in the SEA Games."

Ten years following his last Games' appearance in Manila, culminating in a gold for the men's team, Lee is understood to be registered in the same event in a list submitted to the Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee earlier this month.

"We submitted his entry, taking into consideration a possible withdrawal if he was suspended," added Sieh.

AFP also reported that the country's Minister for Youth and Sports Khairy Jamaluddin, who was at the press conference with Lee, had indicated that the country was keen for the shuttler to play in the upcoming Games.

But Sieh noted that "the ball is in the Badminton Association of Malaysia's court" with regards to his involvement in the men's singles, adding that it is "in charge" of Lee and is aware of his current level of fitness.

ocharles@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on April 28, 2015.
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