Malaysian badminton star Lee gets backdated doping ban

AFP , Monday 27 Apr 2015

In this June 13, 2014 file photo, Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei plays against Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia during their quarterfinal match of the Japan Open Badminton Championship in Tokyo (Photo: AP)

Malaysian badminton star Lee Chong Wei Monday was cleared to resume his career and pursuit of Olympic gold when he received an eight-month, backdated ban for doping.

The long-time world number one can return to the court as early as this week after the Badminton World Federation found he "accidentally" ingested a banned substance.

Lee, 32, who is eligible to resume competition on May 1, had warned he would retire if he was hit with a ban that would rule him out of next year's Olympics.

He was delighted with the outcome of a process which began at last August's world championships, when he tested positive for the anti-inflammatory dexamethasone.

"I'm quite happy," Lee told reporters at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur. "I am very happy to go back to the court."

The BWF said an anti-doping panel found Lee had been "negligent" by ingesting the substance, which was in contaminated capsules containing a food supplement.

But it was satisfied Lee did not set out to cheat, after studying evidence given at a hearing in the Netherlands.

"The panel is convinced this is not a case of doping with intent to cheat," the panel found, according to a BWF statement.

Lee had previously said he received the drug during stem-cell treatment for a thigh injury before the world championships, where he was runner-up to China's Chen Long.

He was stripped of his world championships silver medal but allowed to keep his singles and team bronzes from last year's Asian Games, which he played before the failed drugs test came to light.

But crucially, Lee can now begin his build-up to Rio de Janeiro next year, where he will try to crown his career by winning his first Olympic title.

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