Badminton – Lee Chong Wei Doping Case

Well, this is not exactly Singapore news, but it had it’s fair share of coverage in the Singapore media. There were always cases of doping in various sports due to some athlete’s obsession for medals, but this particular case of doping is more prominent, because this time, the case was in badminton, a sports where doping cases are relatively unheard of, what’s more, it’s against the world number one player!

From all the media coverage, it seems that the doping was unintentional, as the drug (Dexamethasone) was prescribed by a doctor possibly for anti-inflammatory treatment. So that brings us to the question on why this drug was banned and why the doctor knowingly or unknowingly prescribed the drug to Lee Chong Wei?

According to medical sources, Dexamethasone is very common in medical treatment and it is not banned during out-of-competition period. And the effect? It can help cyclist relieve high-altitude training-related sicknesses such as acute mountain sickness, pulmonary edema and headaches and hence indirectly enchance performance (for cyclists). But for badminton players? Seems like there’s no obvious effect on the performance.

Why was this drug prescribed to Lee Chong Wei in the first place? It’s either the doctor involved was not aware of Lee Chong Wei’s tournament schedule or he is just ignorant that the drug was banned in sports. After this episode, hopefully doctors for athlete will be more aware of all banned drugs in sports and also their tournament schedule so that if any of the banned drugs need to be administered for whatever treatments, they have to ensure that the drugs are flushed out of the athlete’s system before any tournaments!

So what is doping?
‘Doping’ refers to an athlete’s use of prohibited drugs or methods to improve training and sporting results.

So if an athlete use prohibited drugs or methods but did not improve training and sporting results, is it still considered doping?
Yes, by international sporting organisation’s standard.

If an athlete was administered prohibited drugs by doctors for treatment and the drugs does not improve training or sporting results, is it considered doping?
Yes, again by international sporting organisation’s standard. The reason being that there’s no means to prove whether the player consumed the drug intentionally or accidentally.

Let’s compare it with murder. If you killed a person, it could be due to intended killing, unintended killing or killing for self-defense. Intended killing is considered murder and will receive the highest punishment. Unintended killing is considered manslaughter and will receive a lesser punishment, whereas killing for self-defense would probably be legitimate and will not be punished. Most laws bothers to find out the reason behind the killing and punish the killer accordingly.

So what’s the point? The point is that international sporting organisations are not interested to know the reason behind the trace of banned drugs in an athlete’s system. As long as banned drugs was found in an athlete’s system during tournament, he is guilty of doping and will be punished regardless of the reason behind the ‘doping’.

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