MELAKA: “There is not and there never will be a shortcut to success in any field, including sport.”
This advice from the president of the Badminton Association of Malaysia, Tan Sri Mohamad Norza Zakaria, is a thinly veiled warning to young athletes who use shortcuts, including banned substances to improve their performance, to succeed in sport.
He said that while they may have excuses for their substance abuse behavior, such as needing stimulants to maintain their stamina and overcome stress during the screening process, it is not the solution to their problems; in fact, it can have a disastrous effect on their careers.
âFind out what happened to (badminton world champion) Datuk Lee Chong Wei. He was at the peak (of his career) but due to his negligence he had to go through the most difficult times of his life, âhe told Bernama.
Traces of the banned substance dexamethasone were detected in Lee’s sample while he was competing at the World Championship in Copenhagen, Denmark in August 2014, following which an eight-month ban was imposed on him by the World Badminton Federation (BWF).
The BWF had said Lee had no intention of cheating but had been careless and failed to realize that he had ingested the substance in the gelatin capsule shells.
âImagine, he fell to 182nd in the badminton world rankings and had to move on. But then Lee was a well-known player, so he succeeded, but in the case of young athletes (caught for doping) it is not certain that an association or an authority is helping them, âsaid Mohamad Norza.
He also cited the example of a local bodybuilding association that took a long time to regain the trust of various industry authorities after a few of its athletes were implicated in a doping problem.
âBecause of the actions of one or two people, the whole development of the sport is hampered. The imposition of a fine is not necessarily useful because the image is more important because it involves the point of view of the international sports association or body responsible for imposing the sanction, âhe added. He underlines.
Sharing his point of view, the former director general of the National Sports Council and the Datuk National Sports Institute, Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz, admitted that the issue of doping is not being taken seriously at the levels of the training and management, although athletes between the ages of 14 and 21 have officially been doped. trials since 2004.
âIn 1996, during a doping control at the Sukma games (Sukan Malaysia), a sprinter tested positive (for a banned substance) and was stripped of his gold medal. For me it was a very serious matter, âhe said, adding that at the time doping tests were only carried out for certain events in Sukma in which national level athletes were participating.
Ramlan, who was also director of the Malaysian Anti-Doping Agency from 2017-2020, said it was unfortunate to note that action is only taken whenever a positive case is detected.
“This positive case in Sukma (in 1996) was a clear signal that the matter should be taken seriously,” he said.
In early 2004, authorities started testing athletes at random and found that doping did not only occur during competitions but also outside of competitions, he said. The doping sampling process, however, comes with its own risks, as some athletes may have ingested prohibited substances unintentionally via medication without the advice of their team doctor.
Acknowledging that doping may also be part of an “organized criminal plan” by some circles to sabotage athletes by supplying them with banned substances, Ramlan however said it was a difficult thing to prove, adding that even the athletes themselves would not come. forward to testify.
âWe cannot just lay charges. To make things more complicated, there is no way in our country’s legislation allowing our athletes and coaches to lodge complaints without facing any threat from any party, âhe said. added.
Although these are discussions about legislation, the most important thing to do now is to rectify the existing mechanism, he said.
âThere is no need for a new law. We already have laws that can be used against white collar criminals who exploit athletes by selling them banned substances.
âThe authorities need to be more authoritarian as the government spends millions of ringgit on athlete training programs and we want athletes to perform well using their own natural abilities so that they can be an inspiration to the athlete. people, âhe said. .
Ramlan also recommended that all national athletes should only be allowed to obtain their medication from doctors at the National Sports Institute, who would be better informed about substances that could influence the results of doping tests performed on athletes during a race. competition.
“However, this problem (doping in sport) can only be overcome if all athletes remain resolute in their determination to stay clean and compete fairly,” he added.
Besides Lee, other Malaysian athletes involved in doping were Tai Cheau Xuen (wushu, 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea) who tested positive for sibutramine and suspended for four months; Mohd Amin Jamaluddin (rugby, 2010 Commonwealth Games New Delhi, India) tested positive for cannabis and suspended for six months; and Mohd Firdaus Abdul Ghani, Mohd Hanif Azman and Mohd Aznan Raslan (sepak takraw, Asian Games 2002 in Busan, South Korea) who tested positive for morphine and suspended for two years.
Weightlifter Amirul Hamizan Ibrahim was slapped with a two-year suspension in 2005 after testing positive for an anabolic steroid. –Bernama