SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea’s Olympic badminton gold medallist Lee Yong-dae has been hit with a one-year ban for missing doping tests, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) said on Tuesday.
The 25-year-old won mixed doubles gold at the 2008 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.
The ban was effective until January 23, 2015, the federation said in a statement, meaning the players would miss the Asian Games in Incheon later this year.
“Korean badminton players Kim Ki-jung and Lee Yong-dae have each received a one-year sanction for violating the requirements relating to filing whereabouts information and resulting missed tests under the BWF Anti-Doping Regulations,” the BWF said.
“Kim and Lee were required to provide whereabouts information for the BWF to conduct out-of-competition testing. In 2013, both athletes accumulated three whereabouts failures in connection with this administrative process.”
The BWF said it chose not to dish out the maximum two-year ban “due to the Badminton Korea Association’s failure ... to make diligent efforts to keep the BWF informed about the players’ whereabouts.”
A doping hearing panel recommended that the Korean association should be fined and the BWF said it would determine whether additional sanctions were appropriate.
Both players had the right to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the statement said.
Kim Jung-soo, executive director of Korean badminton, told a news conference later on Tuesday that the two players would never intentionally miss doping tests.
“When the WADA inspectors visited the Taeneung National Training Centre in March and November last year, Lee and Kim were not there as they were participating in local and international competitions,” Kim said.
“We failed to submit a whereabouts report online last September as well.
“Kim and Lee have never used banned substances and did not reject or intentionally avoid testing. They have participated in a number of international competitions and passed all the tests every time.
“It is hard to understand that they are punished just because they were not present when the inspectors came to check their whereabouts without prior notice.”
Kim said the association would “aggressively” appeal the case to seek a reduction in the bans to three-six months from one year so the players Kim could compete in the September 19 to October 4 Asian Games on home soil.
Editing by Peter Rutherford