When Lee Chong Wei was served with a doping ban after the 2014 world championship tournament in Copenhagen, the news shocked his fans worldwide. For Malaysians, it was grief beyond words because Lee had been regarded as the national hero and after the Prime Minister of Malaysia; he was the most respected citizen. As a singles player in badminton, Lee held the status of world’s no.1 player for 199 consecutive weeks from 21 August 2008 to 14 June 2012. He has brought Olympic honors to a nation which suffered from the medal drought after the 1996 Olympic Games. Lee won silver medals in both 2008 and 2012 Games and Malaysia honored him with the title of Datuk. The news about the celebrated Malaysian’s return to badminton courts as early as next week was greeted with great fanfare after the BWF Doping Hearing Panel announced on Monday that Lee was cleared to resume his career as the 8-month long suspension had been established but backdated.
Lee, the former men’s world no.1 in badminton was provisionally suspended in November 2014 after urine sample taken at the BWF World Championships last 30 August in Denmark revealed the presence of Dexamethasone, a specified banned substance. The substance presumably entered Lee’s body from the gelatin capsules that the Malaysian had been consuming as a food supplement. The Doping Panel found that as objectionable, despite Lee’s pleas that he did not do so with intent to cheat. But the analytical findings were construed as adverse and as per a regulatory clause, Lee Chong Wei was served an eight-month temporary sanction for violating the anti-doping regulation until further investigations.
Since the ban, Lee has been in touch with BWF Doping Hearing Panel to submit his side of the story as early as possible. The grieved Malaysian superstar wanted to establish; a) how the Specified Substance Dexamethasone entered his body; b) that the Substance was not intended to enhance the sport performance or mask the use of a performance-enhancing substance; and c) proof by production of corroborating evidence to the comfortable satisfaction of the panel that he did not have any malafide intentions of cheating.
Lee appeared before the BWF Doping Hearing Panel on April 11, 2015 and accepted that Dexamethasone was present in his sample and that he had consequently committed an anti-doping violation under regulation 2.1 of the 2009 BWF Anti-Doping Regulations. But he argued that if he did that, it was done inadvertently and based on evidences in his support, either no sanction should be applied as per Clause 10.5.1, or at least the sanctions should be reduced according to Clause 10.4. After satisfying themselves with Lee’s arguments and evidence, the panel stated that it was convinced that Lee’s case was not one of doping with intent to cheat. But the panel also said that it found Lee had been negligent although the degree of negligence was rather light. The panel also stated that Lee probably did not realize that he had ingested a Specified Substance. In conclusion, the Doping Hearing Panel deemed it “correct and fair” to backdate the period of ineligibility to the date of sample collection, thereby ending his sanction on 30 April, 2015, and making Lee Chong Wei eligible to resume his badminton career on Friday 1 May, 2015.
With the announcement, Lee’s runner-up result in the Men’s Singles competition of last year’s BWF World Championships has been disqualified but results obtained between 30 August, 2014, and 2 October, 2014, the date on which Lee was notified of his positive test, will stand.