KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Lee Chong Wei’s slumping ranking because of a doping ban has left Malaysia in a quandary ahead of the badminton world championships in Jakarta in August.
The Malaysians have two spots at the Aug. 10-16 tournament but former world number one and twice Olympic silver medalist Lee is only their third-ranked player after serving a backdated eight-month ban which expired on Friday.
World number 31 Chong Wei Feng and 41st-ranked Zulfadli Zulkiffli are in line to take the two spots but talk has already begun about 45th-ranked Lee going at the expense of one of his compatriots.
“We need to take players with medal-winning prospects and if that comes into play, (Lee) Chong Wei will be a sure choice but it is up to BAM to chose Wei Feng or Zulfadli,” national singles coach Tey Seu Bock told local media on Monday.
Seu Bock previously coached Lee but now looks after Chong, who has also slumped after reaching a career high of 12th in 2013.
Promising 21-year-old Zulfadli, who won a number of junior titles, is currently at his career best ranking.
Seu Bock unsurprisingly believed his man deserved the opportunity to compete in Indonesia.
“Wei Feng is under my charge and he is ranked higher, so he shouldn’t give up his spot. He’s been working very hard and has shown a very positive attitude,” he said.
Badminton Association Malaysia (BAM) technical director Morten Frost said the decision over which two players to send would be resolved soon.
“Right now, there is no decision regarding our two representatives. There is still time for us decide and it will probably be done some time next week,” he said.
Malaysian media were hopeful that the Badminton World Federation, who handed Lee the ban last month, would consider giving the 32-year-old a wildcard to compete in Jakarta.
However, it was at last year’s world championships that Lee tested positive for dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory that does not enhance performance but is on the list of banned substances.
Lee was staying clear of the discussion and just going through final preparations for his tournament return at the team Sudirman Cup in China starting on Sunday.
“The tournament is only days away but I am itching for action and very excited,” he said. “The feeling this time around is different since I have not stayed away from competition for such a long time.”
Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by John O'Brien