Millennium Post

Badminton Scandal: Was top star Lee Chong Wei his own worst enemy?

World badminton no 1 Lee Chong Wei’s B sample tested positive for dexamethasone earlier in the week, threatening the career of one of Malaysia’s greatest sportsmen. He has been suspended temporarily pending a doping hearing with the Badminton World Federation (BWF). The hearing was expected to held in the next two weeks.

If there’s one thing that can unite Malaysians regardless of race and religion, it has to be sport. Badminton is the only sport that put Malaysia on the world map. The level of craziness could be seen during the epic London 2012 Olympic final between Lee Chong Wei and China’s Lin Dan. Despite losing to the Chinese, Lee Chong was widely mentioned in Twitter, over 9,200 tweets per minute. On the day of the final itself, Lee Chong garnered nearly 500,000 mentions compared to Lin Dan’s 238,000. Needless to say, the Malaysian badminton hero received tons of congratulatory tweets. Understandably, Lee Chong was considered Malaysia’s only ‘genuine world-class athlete’, and it’s not hard to understand why. Lee was ranked first worldwide for 199 consecutive weeks from 21 August 2008 to 14 June 2012, and is the only Malaysian shuttler to hold the number one ranking for more than a year. He is also the first Malaysian to reach the final in the Olympic men’s singles event, ending Malaysia’s Olympic medal drought since the 1996 Games.

Lee has a whopping 48 titles under his belt. Naturally, with fame comes great responsibilities, and fortune. Lee is the highest earner in the world of badminton, pocketing a cool $$292,000 in 2013 alone. And we have not included other personal deals from bonuses, allowances, appearance, sponsors and whatnot. Now that he’s been suspended by the Badminton World Federation, pending an appeal, Lee Chong Wei’s fate and fortune seems to have come to an abrupt end. When Lee Chong’s sample was found positive for dexamethasone, a type of steroid which has anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant effects, almost all his fans stood behind him. Apparently, he failed a random dope test during the World Championships in Copenhagen on August 30.
Of course, the badminton darling cries foul and claims he has never cheated in his entire life.

Nevertheless, he could be banned for two years, if the Badminton World Federation does not buy his appeal story. Amusingly, Chong Wei couldn’t explain himself why the ‘substance’ still remains in his body more than a month since he last received the injection for the treatment of a thigh injury.

The 32-year-old Perak-born hero’s career will definitely end prematurely since he would be too old in another two years. As much as his fanatic fans like to defend him, it’s hard to cook up some conspiracy stories, what more after he was seen to be ‘extraordinary close’ to de-facto prime minister Rosmah Mansor. However, a bombshell dropped by former national shuttler Razif Sidek raised 30 million eyebrows. In a jaw dropping revelation, Razif Sidek claimed Lee Chong Wei has been using for a long time the banned substance like the one he was reported to have tested positive for in the recent scandal. In fact, he alleged many badminton officers within the Badminton Association Malaysia (BAM) were aware of what Lee was doing. Razif also claims Lee had hired a foreign doctor for that purpose.

It seems junior and senior players including BAM officials were aware of the hidden secret. But since it was hard to prove the misuse of banned substances especially on a hero such as Lee.  Could fame, fortune and the high expectation from BAM officials contribute to a close-one-eye policy as far as drugs misuse is concerned in Malaysia?

After all, isn’t ‘the end justifies the means’ a normal practice in Malaysia? Hence, it’s a normal reaction from the country’s youth and sports minister, Khairy Jamaluddin, to slam Razif for ‘exposing’ the hanky-panky within the country’s badminton sector.
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