Lee Chong Wei

World’s top-ranked badminton player fails drug test

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Lee Chong Wei, the world’s top-ranked badminton player, failed a drug test and has been temporarily suspended, according to reports.

“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,” Lee said, according to a Malaysian blog.

The Malaysian reportedly tested positive for the banned substance dexamethasone at the World Championships in August, where he won silver, and could face a two-year ban.

Malaysian media first reported Lee’s failed drug test two weeks ago. Lee’s B sample results came back this week.

A Malaysian sports official called it an unfortunate and isolated case.

“I want to stress this is not a performance-enhancing drug,” Malaysian Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin told reporters, according to the Malaysian Star. “It shouldn’t affect [public] perception of badminton [in Malaysia]. This is not Ben Johnson or Lance Armstrong.”

Dexamethasone is a glucocorticosteroid, which falls under the World Anti-Doping Agency’s prohibited list. Glucocorticosteroids are often called “steroids” but cover a range of legally prescribed substances taken orally, injected or by IV, including asthma and anti-rash medications, according to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s athlete guide.

A substance is typically considered for the prohibited list if it meets two of the following three criteria:

  • It has the potential to enhance or enhances sport performance
  • It represents an actual or potential health risk to the athlete
  • It violates the spirit of sport

Glucocorticosteroids are allowed to be prescribed for use outside of competition, as outlined by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Lee said he last received an injection of dexamethasone to treat a thigh injury July 18. It was out of his system by an out-of-competition test Aug. 15, Lee said.

“So it is indeed a mystery why this substance was found in my system in [the in-competition drug test] August 30,” he said in the blog post.

Lee, 32, won 2008 and 2012 Olympic silver, falling to Chinese star Lin Dan in both finals. Lee has also won three straight World Championships silver medals.

Lee is the only Malaysian to win multiple Olympic medals.

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Chinese swimmer Sun Yang gets rare open hearing in doping case

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The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said Monday it will hear the World Anti-Doping Agency’s case against three-time Olympic gold medalist Sun Yang on Nov. 15 in front of reporters — possibly even live-streamed — at the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace in Montreux, Switzerland.

The hearing won’t be completely open. Registration will be required, and photographers and videographers “will be invited to leave the hearing room after the opening,” CAS said in a statement. But those outside the room may still get a glimpse of the proceedings.

“With the agreement of all parties, it is intended to live stream all or parts of the hearing on the CAS website,” CAS said.

CAS noted that it has only held one prior hearing that wasn’t in a private setting — the 1999 case involving Irish swimmer Michelle Smith de Bruin, who won three gold medals in the 1996 Olympics but was banned for four years for tampering with a urine sample, a case that still prompts soul-searching in the Irish media. De Bruin lost the appeal.

Sun is accused of smashing a vial of blood at a drug test last fall. FINA allowed him to continue to compete, but the WADA has appealed, seeking a substantial suspension.

The Chinese swimmer won two gold medals at the world championships this summer and snubbed by some rivals at each medal ceremony, leading to a confrontation with British swimmer Duncan Scott.

RECAP AND VIDEO: Sun taunts Scott after medal ceremony

Sun has won 11 world individual titles in several freestyle distances but also has a long history of controversies ranging from a prior positive drug test and confrontations with other swimmers.

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U.S. women’s volleyball team ends year with surprise loss to Dominican Republic

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The Dominican Republic surprised the U.S. women’s volleyball team in the final of the NORCECA (North, Central America and Caribbean) women’s continental championship Sunday in San Juan, Puerto Rico, winning the first two sets and regrouping after a U.S. rally to win the fifth set.

The final score of the back-and-forth match: 25-19, 25-23, 15-25, 20-25, 15-9. The U.S. women had defeated the Dominican Republic in three previous finals: 2011, 2013 and 2015. The Dominican Republic won a semifinal matchup on its way to the 2009 title.

In group play, the U.S. team had beaten the Dominican Republic in straight sets. The U.S. also breezed past Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico in group play and swept past Canada in the semifinals.

The loss doesn’t affect Olympic qualification. The U.S. women had already qualified for the 2020 Olympics by winning a qualification tournament in August in Bossier City, La.

MORE: U.S. women rally to qualify

Semifinalists Canada and Puerto Rico qualified for a last-chance Olympic qualifier that the Dominican Republic will host in January. Mexico defeated Cuba in the NORCECA fifth-place game to be the last of the four teams vying for one spot.

The Dominican Republic has had some success in women’s volleyball, finishing fifth in the 2014 world championships and reaching the 2012 Olympic quarterfinals before falling to the U.S. The team also won this year’s Pan Am Games, to which the U.S. did not send its top players. Currently, the team is ranked 10th in the world.

Earlier this year, the U.S. women had defeated the Dominican Republic in two tournament finals — the Pan American Cup and the NORCECA Champions Cup. The U.S. also won a matchup in the World Cup last month, but the Dominican Republic won another five-set match in the Nations League preliminary round in Italy.

The U.S. finishes the year with a 44-7 record in tournament play, including a first-place finish in the Nations League and second place in the World Cup.

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