Former Olympic badminton champion Lee Yong-dae has been suspended for one year for violating international anti-doping procedures, officials said Tuesday, putting his availability for this year's Asian Games at home in jeopardy.
The Badminton World Federation announced on its website that Lee and another South Korean player, Kim Ki-jung, have been suspended for a year for "violating the requirements relating to filing whereabouts information and resulting missed tests under the BWF Anti-Doping Regulations."
The suspension took effect on Jan. 23, 2014, the Kuala Lumpur-based BWF noted.
"As part of BWF's registered testing pool of international level badminton athletes, Kim and Lee were required to provide whereabouts information for the BWF to conduct out-of-competition testing," the international governing body said. "In 2013, both athletes accumulated three whereabouts failures in connection with this administrative process."
According to the BWF, the two athletes attended a hearing on Jan. 13. The BWF determined that there were "extenuating circumstances" to only sanction the athletes for one year, as opposed to the maximum of two years, because the Badminton Korea Association failed to inform the BWF about the two's whereabouts.
The BWF said its Doping Hearing Panel has recommended fining the South Korean governing body, with additional sanctions on the horizon.
According to the BWF, Lee and Kim have the right to appeal the ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland by midnight on Feb. 17, 2014, Kuala Lumpur time.
Lee, 25, won the gold medal in the mixed doubles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He also grabbed a bronze medal in the men's doubles at the London Olympics in 2012.
The suspension, unless overturned, will keep Lee out of the Asian Games, to be held in Incheon, a metropolitan city west of Seoul, in September.
At a press conference in Seoul, Kim Jung-soo, an executive director of the South Korean badminton body, said Lee and Kim failed to provide information about their whereabouts in March, September and November. He said this is the first suspension resulting from a failure to inform the international badminton agency of athletes' locations.
"In March and November last year, when anti-doping officials visited the National Training Center in Seoul, the two athletes weren't present, as they were competing in domestic and international events," Kim said, adding that South Koreans were informed of the sanctions four days ago. "In September, they should have entered their whereabouts information online but failed to do so."
Kim insisted the two athletes only violated administrative procedures and haven't failed doping tests.
"They have never taken any banned substances," the official said. "They have never refused any test or tried to avoid being tested. They have passed all of the doping tests at multiple international competitions."
Kim said it was "difficult to accept" the sanctions for merely not being present for tests. He added that South Korean officials will appeal their suspension to CAS, and try to reduce their sanctions to six months or less.
Lee is one of the most popular athletes in South Korea, having shot to instant stardom after giving the famous cheeky wink at cameras to celebrate the mixed doubles gold medal in Beijing. (Yonhap)