Top swimmer and asthma sufferer David Wong Kai-wai is hoping for a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) to escape a lengthy ban after he failed a drug test at the start of the year.
Hong Kong Swimming Association honorary secretary Ronnie Wong Man-chiu confirmed yesterday that the swimmer, a multiple Hong Kong record holder, tested positive for a banned substance and that a hearing would be held soon. However, the official believed the swimmer had no intention of using drugs to enhance his performance.
"Wong applied for a TUE before he was tested positive," said the official. "However, he continued to take part in domestic competitions despite the fact that the exemption has yet to be approved. He was selected for a doping test in January and unfortunately, the result, which came back last month, was positive."
It is believed the swimmer took medicine prescribed by his doctor to treat asthma. The medicine contains a banned substance; a swimmer must get approval from the international federation before using it.
According to a source close to the case, the Hong Kong Anti-Doping Committee, with advice from Fina, swimming's world governing body, will issue the TUE for Wong within the week.
Fina rules state that competitors with a documented medical condition requiring the use of a prohibited substance must first obtain a TUE. Presence of a prohibited substance consistent with the provisions of an applicable TUE and issued pursuant to the international standard for therapeutic use exemptions shall not be considered an anti-doping rule violation.
"We believe there is no intention of using drugs to help improve performance in this case," said the official.
"He just failed to follow the proper procedures and was too eager to compete without obtaining a TUE first. But still, this is a case of a drug violation and we think there should be some sort of punishment as a warning."
The official said they had studied similar cases from other parts of the world and believed a sanction of two to three months would be appropriate for a swimmer with no previous record of drug usage.
Wong, 24, holds Hong Kong records in freestyle, butterfly and relay events. He also won a gold medal in the men's 200 metres at a short-course World Cup meeting in the United Arab Emirates in 2011. He said yesterday he could not comment until after the hearing.
Two months ago, former Asian Games BMX gold medallist Steven Wong failed an out-of-competition test in Belgium for steroids last April. Having quit BMX and joined a professional road race team in 2011, Wong was banned for two years.
Former badminton world No1 Zhou Mi also received a two-year ban in 2010 when she tested positive for clenbuterol.