KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - The Malaysian sports minister has called for an investigation into claims a young cyclist was injected with the same banned drug that former badminton world number one Lee Chong Wei tested positive for.
Mohd Shah Firdaus Sahrom, 20, is fighting an 18-month ban after the anti-inflammatory drug dexamethasone was found in his system at the Asian Championships in Kazakhstan a year ago.
Lee, who has won over 55 titles and is revered at home, was handed only a backdated eight-month ban by the Badminton World Federation on Monday after successfully arguing he unknowingly took the substance via a contaminated food supplement. The 32-year-old was free to return to competition on Friday.
Shah faces an appeal hearing at the Malaysian National Cycling Federation on May 9 as he tries to overturn the suspension for having the non-performance drug, which is only banned in competition, in his system.
He claimed it must have come from an injection he received from a National Sports Institute medic, with the cyclist given a boost by the Youth and Sports Ministry ordering a second investigation.
“In Shah’s case he says he was administered with an injection during the Asian Championships in Kazakhstan, but the SOP (standard operating procedure) is that they don’t carry the substance in their bag,” Khairy Jamaluddin was quoted as saying by Friday’s New Straits Times.
“So, if that is the injection that he is referring to... there is an issue now of where it came from.”
Lee faced a ban of up to two years and although he was given a softer sentence he was criticized by the BWF panel for putting himself at risk for so long with negligent practices in relation to his supplement intake.
The 12-page report into the case detailed how the wife “of a very influential man in Malaysia” gifted Lee cordyseps tablets that he would take each day from unmarked containers despite not knowing how they were capsulated.
Khairy did not see an issue with the two varying punishments from the different bodies.
“The difference between Chong Wei’s case and Shah is that Chong Wei managed to prove that he unknowingly took the substance. The cordyseps may have been laced with dexamethasone.
“But in Shah’s case, he can’t pinpoint how the substance could have been consumed apart from the injection.
“This is why I have asked for another report. Hopefully we can have an answer before he faces the hearing.”
Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty