Malaysian ace Lee Chong Wei’s long-awaited doping hearing opened before a three-member Badminton World Federation panel Saturday in Amsterdam, a BWF official said, where the former world number one has vowed to clear his name.
“The hearing is starting” at a hotel near Schiphol International Airport, the official, who declined to be named, told AFP.
Lee’s London-based lawyer Mike Morgan refused to comment before Lee’s hearing opened behind closed doors.
Morgan however said a statement was planned later Saturday.
The BWF also declined to comment, with the federation’s Gayle Alleyne telling AFP: “At the appropriate time, BWF will communicate as required.”
However, the official said no verdict was expected on Saturday, as the panel needed several days to reach a finding and write their report.
“It’s a highly technical issue,” the official added.
Last month two-time Olympic silver medallist Lee told the Malaysian-based Star newspaper he hoped the hearing would clear his name and allow him to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games.
“Please pray for me and wish me well (for the hearing session). All I want is to clear my name and return to Badminton,” Lee recently tweeted on Twitter.
Lee, 32, tested positive for the banned anti-inflammatory drug dexamethasone at last year’s World Championships in Copenhagen, where he lost to China’s Chen Long in the final.
If found guilty, he could face a career-ending two-year ban.
One of Malaysia’s most popular sports stars, Lee said he received dexamethasone during stem cell treatment for a thigh injury in July last year.
He has maintained that he would retire if he were banned for two years.
Lee has the support of the Badminton Association of Malaysia, with the BWF saying Lee was suspended “due to an apparent anti-doping regulation violation” while the panel considers whether he committed an offence.
Lee has also voiced fears he would never realise his dream of becoming world and Olympic champion.
Despite topping the rankings for years and reaching three world championship finals and two Olympic finals, Lee has never won either of Badminton’s two major titles.
He has dropped to 17th on the latest BWF rankings, with his main rival Chen in top spot. -AFP