Badminton world number one Lee Chong Wei has said he “never cheated” and will fight to clear his name, as he finally broke his silence on positive drugs tests that have shocked the sport.
Reports that the Malaysian star tested positive for the banned anti-inflammatory dexamethasone at the world championships in Copenhagen in August have been circulating for weeks, although officials refused to identify Lee.
But the shuttler wrote on Twitter late Saturday that he hoped to clear his name, posting a link to an interview in which he describes himself as “devastated” by the allegations.
“Thank u for having faith in me. I never cheated nor will I ever rely on banned substances,” the 32-year-old wrote in the Twitter post.
“There are so many unanswered questions, and I hope to clear my name soon.”
In the interview, he tells friend and sports blogger Satwant Singh Dhaliwal: “I saw my entire life flash by me, the whole last 15 years just going up in smoke. I was devastated and just did not know what to do.
“I have never cheated not even made any attempt to cheat thus this was like a bolt of lightning, destroying everything I had worked so hard for.”
Fans have been shocked by the allegations against Lee, a hero in Malaysia who is known for his humility and diligence.
The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) said Saturday the shuttler had been temporarily suspended after a second test on his urine sample — conducted in Norway this week and witnessed by Lee — came back positive, like the first test.
Lee — who is facing a suspension of up to two years, which could mean the end of his career — is now awaiting a hearing by the Badminton World Federation. No date has been set as yet.
– Positive results ‘a mystery’ –
BAM and other officials have defended Lee, saying the drug was not performance-enhancing.
They are probing if it may stem from treatment of a thigh injury in July, when Lee received stem cell injections.
Lee said he was informed that the drug was last injected into him on July 18 but he passed an out-of-competition test on August 15.
“So it is indeed a mystery why this substance was found in my system on August 30,” Lee told Satwant.
“At the moment I am confined to my house and have not even thought of returning to the courts yet.”
Many Malaysians have rallied behind Lee, the country’s most prominent male athlete.
“I will always support you & you r not a cheater. You r Malaysian hero,” one Twitter user wrote on Sunday.
Lee has been at or near the top of the rankings since 2008 though he has never won a world or Olympic title, often losing to his nemesis, the Chinese star Lin Dan, at the last moment.
In the world championships in Denmark, where the random test took place, he lost to China’s Chen Long in the final.
Badminton has seen few doping scandals, with previous controversies mainly stemming from judging inconsistencies and attempts to throw matches. – Agence France-Presse