KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 8 – The medication that national shuttler Datuk Lee Chong Wei took was a steroid to aid athletes’ rehabilitation, not a drug to enhance performance, The Star Online reported Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar as saying. The Youth and Sports Minister said Chong Wei, who tested positive for drugs, should not be compared to Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson or American cyclist Lance Armstrong, who were both embroiled in doping scandals.
Khairy said Chong Wei’s case was not the same. “I want to stress this is not a performance enhancing drug. It shouldn’t affect (public) perception of badminton (in Malaysia). “This is not Ben Johnson or Lance Armstrong,” he was reported as saying today. Johnson lost his 100m gold medal at the 1988 Olympics after testing positive for anabolic steroids while Armstrong was found to have used erythropoietin (EPO), steroids and blood transfusions to boost his performance.
Khairy also described Chong Wei’s situation as an “unfortunate, isolated case”. Chong Wei’s sample B came back positive with traces of dexamethasone found in his urine. Dexamethasone is a type of steroid medication with anti-inflammatory effects usually used to aid an athlete’s rehabilitation. Chong Wei faces a two-year ban but will get a chance for a hearing with the Badminton World Federation (BWF), in a date to be announced soon.
It was reported that a reduced sentence is possible depending on various factors such as the athlete’s intentions, track record and conduct during his career. The ministry and the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) are waiting for BWF to confirm the hearing date. “We will make sure we present the best possible case,” Khairy was quoted saying in the Star Online report. He added that he had yet to speak to Chong Wei.
Despite reports and widespread speculation that the top shuttler who tested positive for drugs is Chong Wei, BAM refused to name the player, citing BWF regulations. BAM deputy president Datuk Mohamad Norza Zakaria told a press conference in Kuala Lumpur this afternoon that the shuttler had been suspended pending the hearing, which is expected to be held in the next two weeks.