KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 19 – There are those who cheat and there are those who take it accidentally. In defending the image of the country’s sports following a couple of high-profile doping scandals, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin admitted there was a lack of awareness on the athletes’ part.
He told The Rakyat Post that more needed to be done to avoid similar events taking place. “Right now, we have seminars and talks for the athletes to make sure that they do not put anything in their bodies and mouth, or inject anything that’s not given by the national sports institute.
“We have to be more vigilant, I’ve tried to strengthen our Doping Agency of Malaysia (ADAMAS) to make sure the coaches, players and athletes are better educated and that they understand the world anti-doping agency’s code for doping is much more stringent now”.
The current code stipulates an automatic ban of four years. Khairy said it was a matter that needed to be taken seriously. The Rembau lawmaker pointed out that drugs and dropping in sports had existed for a long time and was an international problem. He said there were those who accidentally consumed banned substances and it was unfair to say that all those tested positive cheated.
“Sometimes we have to be fair to the athletes and allow them the room for mitigation. This was why the ministry was trying to review Datuk Lee Chong Wei’s punishment as they believed the national ace did not know what he was taking. Lee tested positive for dexamethasone during a doping test at the World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Aug 30 last year.
Wushu gold medalist Tai Cheau Xuen, Khairy argued did not intentionally consume any performance enhancing substance. “She bought a drink online, a slimming drink which contained a dosage of sibutramine and she got caught.” Tai was stripped of the Asian Games gold medal she won in September last year, after the banned stimulant was found in her system.
Khairy, a sportsman himself, added that those involved in the national sport industry had their work cut out for them as the industry had been going through a “downward trend”. “We have a lot of work to do. I think sport over the last five to 10 years has been on a downward trend as the improvements that we saw in 1998 after the Commonwealth games was not sustainable.
So what I’ve tried to do is address the system and its structure.” For the next five years, Khairy said the ministry needed to focus more on development and managing talents as the nation was still reliant on Datuk Nicol Ann David and Lee. “We have to start in school age groups clubs and development programmes. Some of our double players are coming through the ranks right now. “We need to give them better exposure and improve their performance through sport science.”