Minister: Drug administered to Lee Chong Wei by specialist sports clinic

PUTRAJAYA: The banned substance dexamethasone was not administered to Datuk Lee Chong Wei by doctors at the National Sports Institute (ISN) but from a specialist sports clinic as part of a stem cell treatment for his injury.

Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said it was usual for national athletes to be referred to the Kuala Lumpur-based clinic for specialised treatment such as stem cell procedures.

"There are times when ISN refers our athletes to the private specialist. The doctors at ISN did not administer dexamethasone to the athlete but it was done at the clinic," he said after attending the launch of the GeNexter Carnival 2014 yesterday.

He said the use of dexamethasone was allowed, but only when athletes were "out of competition".

"Many athletes use it outside competition and it usually lasts about 10 days in the system. However, we do not know why it was still in his body," he said.

Chong Wei had reportedly suffered an inner thigh injury and sought stem cell treatment in July.

Last week, Khairy had said that an investigation on the shuttler's medical history revealed that dexamethasone was administered into his body on July 17 to treat his injury.

Chong Wei, 32, pulled out from the Glasgow Common­wealth Games from July 23-Aug 3 to recover from the injury for the Copenhagen World Championships from Aug 25-31.

He was tested positive for dexamethasone during a random doping test at the world meet.

Results of a second test done in Norway had returned positive, resulting in a temporary suspension of Chong Wei pending the outcome of a Badminton World Federation hearing.

Khairy also said the ministry was checking another out-of-competition test conducted by the World Anti-Doping Agency on the shuttler on Aug 15 in Malaysia before he left to compete in the world meet.

He said that the test would help shed some light on how dexamethasone could be in the shuttler's system for so long (from July 17 to Aug 30) and help the ministry establish a point in the shuttler's mitigating process.

The ministry and the Badminton Association of Malaysia said they would ensure the athlete was provided with the best defence possible during the hearing, expected to be held over the next three weeks.

In Bentong, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said he was an avid supporter of Chong Wei.

"I am a badminton fan as I, too, play the sport. I believe he did not intentionally take the medication. We constantly talked when I was Deputy Youth and Sports Minister and during my tenure as Health Minister.

"He told me that whenever he goes for international tournaments, he would be checked and there was no way that he took steroids," he said after attending an anti-Aedes campaign.