SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Malaysian badminton player Lee Chong Wei, a three-times Olympic silver medal winner who served an eight-month doping ban, has urged any local offenders to “stay strong” after reports emerged that a SEA Games champion had failed a drugs test.
Earlier this week, national news agency Bernama said the unnamed female diver, a gold medalist at the Kuala Lumpur-hosted Southeast Asian Games in August, tested positive for banned weight-loss drug sibutramine at a New Delhi laboratory.
The athlete, one of three who returned positive tests, has asked to be present for her B sample test and faces the prospect of being stripped of her medal and a four-year ban should the second examination also return a positive result.
Malaysia’s sporting community has been rocked by the news, especially as the National Sports Council (NSC) were confident that no local athlete would fail a drugs test at the Games and Chong Wei has offered advice on how to deal with a doping ban.
“Failing a dope test is really tough on an athlete. I know because I went through it,” Chong Wei told Thursday’s The Star newspaper.
“It’s also difficult for an athlete because every year there are new substances added to the banned list,” added the 34-year-old, who was stripped of his silver medal and handed the ban after testing positive at the 2014 World Championships.
“The best the athletes can do is to stay strong and put their trust in the National Sports Institute (NSI) to help them.”
Former world number one Chong Wei, who failed a test for anti-inflammatory corticosteroid dexamethasone, added that it was the responsibility of all athletes to ensure they strictly monitored their diets.
“We need to be extra careful especially with what we eat and the nutrients we take,” he said. “That’s why it is best that all nutrients are vetted by the NSI.”
Malaysia topped the medals table in the biennial regional gathering with 145 golds but the positive result came as a surprise to Anti-Doping Agency of Malaysia (Adamas) unit head S. Nishel Kumar.
“Together with the NSC, we have conducted tests, seminars and so much more for all the athletes involved in the SEA Games since October last year,” he told the New Straits Times when asked to comment on the matter.
“This is a very tough question, because we conducted our tests in batches. The said athlete could have consumed the banned substance after testing negative.”
The date of the diver’s B sample test has yet to be set.
Reportting by John O'Brien in Singapore; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly