Doping ban for Olympic badminton star reversed

New evidence clears South Korean to compete in Asian Games

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 April, 2014, 10:17pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 April, 2014, 12:37am

South Korea's Olympic badminton gold medallist Lee Yong-dae has had his one-year ban for missing dope tests reversed, the Badminton World Federation announced yesterday, leaving him free to compete at this year's Asian Games.

The 25-year-old won mixed doubles gold at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and a bronze medal in the men's doubles in London four years later. Another Korean player, Kim Ki-jung, was also banned for one year but is now also free to compete.

The federation had given the players the suspensions in January for "violating the requirements relating to filing whereabouts information and resulting missed tests under the BWF Anti-Doping Regulations".

Both players appealed over the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

At the time, the BWF said it chose not to dish out the maximum two-year ban due to Badminton Korea Association's (BKA) failure to make diligent efforts to keep it informed about the players' whereabouts.

Yesterday, however, the BWF said on its website that new evidence had been presented as part of the disciplinary process, evidence that should have been made available in January. It said sanctions had been reversed and the players were eligible to resume playing immediately.

"The information and evidence presented at the January hearing was insufficient and ambiguous and there was no proof beyond reasonable doubt that the players were not at fault," said the BWF. "The appropriate decision applied at that time.

"However, this new evidence renders the CAS Appeal almost entirely unnecessary as it means 'material evidence' would be presented for the first time without having been made available to or evaluated by the BWF doping hearing panel."

After reviewing its original decision, the BWF panel wiped out the players' "missed tests and filing failures" and expunged their records.

The doubles specialists will be able to compete at the Asian Games from September 19 to October 4 on home soil in Incheon.

At a news conference in Seoul, BKA president Shin Kye-ryun, flanked by lawyers who argued the players' case, said justice had been done.

The association had admitted the situation had arisen due to their administrative errors and that the athletes had done nothing wrong, he added.

"The last three months were difficult. Lee and Kim had a lot to say but had to endure all this time. I am so grateful for them."