Lee happy to be team player in quest for individual goals

Tue May 26, 2015 3:27am EDT
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By John O'Brien

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Former world number one Lee Chong Wei is by far the biggest name in the Southeast Asian Games' badminton tournament but the Malaysian shuttler is happy to keep his return from a doping ban low-key as he eyes bigger goals.

For 32-year-old Lee, his appearance in the men's team event will end a 10-year hiatus from the multi-sports gathering and while his presence will install Malaysia as favorites, an elusive world or Olympic title remains his ultimate target.

Lee has spent more than 300 weeks at the top of the rankings since 2006, collecting 55 titles along the way, yet has never been able to claim one of badminton's biggest prizes, falling short in two Olympic finals and in three world title showdowns.

Four of those defeats came against arch-nemesis Lin Dan and the Malaysian had put off retirement for one last tilt at overcoming his Chinese rival and crowning his career with either title before his world came crashing down last August.

Lee tested positive for dexamethasone at the world championships in Copenhagen and when his 'B' sample confirmed the findings, he was temporarily suspended by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) as he appealed the decision.

Dexamethasone is not performance-enhancing but a commonly administered anti-inflammatory corticosteroid that is not forbidden when used off-season for rehabilitation but deemed illegal if discovered in an athlete's body during competition.

Facing a career-ending two-year ban, Lee argued that he gained no benefit from a supplement he had taken inadvertently, convincing the BWF to reduce his back-dated suspension to eight months. He was able to return to competition in early May.


Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei speaks to media during a news conference in Bangkok November 21, 2014.  REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha