Badminton Scandal – Was Lee Chong Wei His Own Worst Enemy?

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Nov 13 2014
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If there’s one thing that can unite Malaysians regardless of race and religion, it has to be sport. Badminton is the only sport that put Malaysia on the world map. In fact, you can’t think of anything else that would make Malaysians proud other than badminton. Certainly not corruption index, university ranking, MH370 or MH17, Proton or even Twin Towers. The country’s 30 million population would cheer their badminton players, come rain or shine.


The level of craziness can be seen during the epic London 2012 Olympic Badminton final between Malaysian Lee Chong Wei and China’s Lin Dan. Despite losing to the Chinese player, Lee Chong Wei was mentioned in Twitter – over 9,200 tweets per minute. On the day of the final itself, Lee Chong Wei garnered nearly 500,000 mentions, compared to Lin Dan’s 238,000 mentions.

London 2012 Olympic Badminton final - Malaysian Lee Chong Wei and China Lin Dan

Amazingly, Chong Wei added close to 50,000 new followers on Twitter in 24 hours after his match. And hashtag #ThankYouLeeChongWei reached No. 3 in the Twitter’s Worldwide Trends list after the match ended. Needless to say, the Malaysian badminton hero received tons of congratulatory tweets – from Air Asia boss Tony Fernandez to now-Sports-Minister Khairy Jamaluddin – as if Lee Chong Wei had won the championship.


Understandably, Lee Chong Wei was considered (perhaps) the Malaysia’s only “genuine world-class athlete”, and it’s not hard to understand why. Lee was ranked first worldwide for 199 consecutive weeks from 21 August 2008 to 14 June 2012, and is the only Malaysian shuttler to hold the number one ranking for more than a year. He is also the first Malaysian to reach the finals in the Olympic men’s singles event, ending Malaysia’s Olympic medal drought since the 1996 Games.

Lee Chong Wei Holding Trophy

Mr Lee has a whopping 48 titles under his belt. Naturally, with fame comes great responsibilities, and fortune. Chong Wei is the highest earner in the world of badminton, pocketed a cool US$292,000 (RM974,000; £185,000) in 2013 alone. And we have not include other personal deals from bonuses, allowances, appearance, sponsors and whatnot. There’s no doubt he’s the richest sportsman in the country, whacking about RM6 million every year.

Lee Chong Wei Car - Bentley Continental GT1Lee Chong Wei Car - Ferrari F430

According to Forbes in 2013, he is worth RM47.55 million from winnings and endorsement deals. By now, his net worth should have breached RM50 million mark. He also owns a good collection of exotic cars, including Skyline GTR R35, BMW X6 Coupe, Ferrari F430, Audi R8, Lamborghini Aventador and Bentley Continental GT1. Therefore, an interesting question – should he play every game possible for money, or should he be choosy or selective in line with his status?

Lee Chong Wei Car - SkylineLee Chong Wei Car - Lamborghini Aventador

Now that he’s been suspended by the Badminton World Federation, pending an appeal, Lee Chong Wei’s fate and fortune seems to have come to an abrupt end. When the world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei’s sample was found positive for dexamethasone, a type of steroid which has anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant effects, almost all his fans stood behind him. Apparently, he failed a random dope test during the World Championships in Copenhagen on August 30.


Of course, the badminton darling cries foul and claims he has never cheated in his entire life. Or was he never been “caught” cheating in his entire life, until now, as some critics would rather believe? Nevertheless, he could be banned for two years, if the Badminton World Federation does not buy his appeal story. Amusingly, Chong Wei couldn’t explain himself why the “substance” still remains in his body after more than a month since he last received the injection for treatment of thigh injury.

Lee Chong Wei Wedding Dinner With Rosmah Mansor

The 32-year-old Perak-born badminton hero’s career will definitely end prematurely since he would be too old in another two years, not to mention his tainted reputation will be recorded in the sports, forever. As much as his fanatic fans like to defend him, it’s hard to cook up some conspiracy stories, what more after he was seen to be “extraordinary close” to de-facto prime minister Rosmah Mansor (*grin*). However, a bombshell dropped by former national shuttler Razif Sidek raises 30 million eyebrows.

Lee Chong Wei Wedding Photo Session With Rosmah Mansor

In a jaw dropping revelation, Razif Sidek claimed that world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei has been using for a long time the banned substance like the one he was reported to have tested positive for in the recent doping scandal. In fact, he alleged that many badminton officers within the Badminton Association Malaysia (BAM) were aware of what Chong Wei was doing. Razif also claims Chong Wei had hired a foreign doctor for that purpose.
Here’s the reason why nobody dared to expose Chong Wei – the national hero’s credibility as a world badminton champion would be jeopardised, at least that was what Razif said. It seems junior and senior players including BAM officials were aware of the hidden little secret. But since it was hard to prove the misuse of the banned drug, especially on a hero such as Lee Chong Wei, it was business as usual, until exposed by an international body now.

Razif Sidek

If you think about it, Razif’s story does carry some weights. A badminton player who could  emerge as the only sportsman who have achieved such success in the country’s history for many generations to come. He makes millions of dollars every year. As he accumulates titles and tons of money, he also realizes the high expectations stacked against his aging body. Fame, fortune and social status could be the reasons why Chong Wei tried the drug.


For the benefits of doubt, he could had promised himself to try it once, and only once, under a very “special” circumstances, when he shouldn’t have. One thing leads to another, and before he knew it, he was too addicted, and too deep in the sh*t-hole, to stop the habit. It was a nice feeling being superhero Iron Man, forever. Just like a drug addict, he kept promising that it would be his last dose, until it was too late, and he was caught and exposed.

Lee Chong Wei Smashing

So, is this the actual version of the scandal story? Could fame, fortune and the high expectation from BAM officials contributed to a close-one-eye policy as far as drugs misuse is concerned in this country? After all, isn’t “the end justifies the means” a normal practice in Malaysia? Hence, it’s a normal reaction from the Youth and Sports Minister, Khairy, to slam Razif for “exposing” the hanky-panky within the country’s badminton sector.


After all, Khairy is a politician, but not Razif. Furthermore, Razif doesn’t have anything to gain by poking at the honey-producing beehive, does he? Between politician Khairy and former national shuttler Razif, the money is on the latter for telling the truth, unfortunately. Instead of slamming Razif, shouldn’t Khairy have a talk to get a clearer picture? What if Razif is right after all?

Lee Chong Wei - Never Been Caught Cheating Until Now

Sure, the truth hurts, especially to the 30 million badminton fans. But if this cancerous cell is not removed, provided the allegation is true, the Malaysia’s sports industry will soon be corrupted. If Chong Wei is guilty, the whole BAM including Mr Minister Khairy should share the responsibility in the embarrassing scandal episode, no? It would be more scandalous if Chong Wei was given the drug by local authorities without him even knowing it. Will Malaysia try to bribe the Badminton World Federation now?


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