In one of the most shocking revelations in the history of badminton, world’s No.1 shuttler and Malaysia’s darling sportsman, Lee Chong Wei, has been banned from the sport for failing last week’s secondary doping test in a Norway laboratory. During the World Championship at Denmark in August, Chong Wei’s urine samples showed the presence of dexamethasone, which is one of the banned substances on the list of World Anti-Doping Agency. According to WADA, the prohibited substances are those, which have; a) the potential of performance enhancement; b) represent a potential health risk to the athlete; or c) violate the spirit of sports. Before the ruling could be announced at Denmark, immediately after the world championship, Chong Wei was required to undergo a secondary test under laboratory-controlled environment at Norway. That happened, when the Malaysian flew into Oslo last week. He was subjected to controlled test at The Norwegian Doping Control laboratory in Oslo last week and the results affirmed the presence of Dexamethasone in the sample B as well. On November 8, 2014, Mohamad Norza Zakaria, the deputy chairman of Badminton Association of Malaysia, announced that the tests carried out on Chong Wei’s second sample confirmed the presence of the banned substance after first sample had tested positive during world championship in Denmark. Following the announcement, Lee Chong Wei has been temporarily suspended from playing competitive badminton. After a hearing by the Badminton World Federation’s doping panel, a two-year ban could be slapped on Chong Wei.
The news of Lee Chong Wei’s possible involvement with drugs has sent a shockwave through the world badminton community. For the people of Malaysia, Chong Wei has been a revered figure for the last several years and they refuse to believe their national hero would take recourse to doping substances for any reason. As a singles badminton player, Chong Wei Lee achieved world’s no. 1 ranking on August 21, 2008 and for 199 consecutive weeks, no other player could displace him from the top spot. Two other Malaysian badminton players; Rashid Sidek and Roslin Hashim were also ranked as world no.1 at different times but none of them could hold on to that position for as long as Chong Wei has done.
Lee Chong Wei finished as a silver medalist at Beijing Olympics in 2008 and repeated his performance four years later in London Olympics 2012. In 2008, when Chong Wei ended Malaysia’s medal drought since the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, he was conferred the top Malaysian title of Datuk and the Malaysian prime minister described him as a national hero. Chong Wei’s other notable achievement have been silver medals in the World Championships in 2011, 2013 and 2014 and four gold medals in commonwealth games, including men’s singles titles in Melbourne (2006) and New-Delhi (2010). Besides, he has won several tournaments in his illustrious career.
The Malaysian authorities believe that Chong Wei is innocent and he can never cheat to get any undue advantage. They describe Chong Wei as a dedicated player and an exceptionally honest person. Talking to media, Chong Wei has himself vehemently denied the impression that he had cheated the sport by use of banned substances. The Deputy Chairman of BAM reiterated that Lee would never resort to shortcuts to achieve success. He claimed that dexamethasone was not a performance enhancing drug and it could have entered the sportsman’s system through medication that he was administered during hospitalization for the thigh injury. Chong Wei received stem-cell treatment for his problem in July 2014 and if the substance was found in the system a month later then it only means that the elapsed time has not washed off the chemical’s traces.