Coach disappointed as athlete’s future hangs in the balance
K. JAYABALAN was crestfallen when he heard that one of his athletes had failed a drugs test at the Indonesia Sea Games and his initial reaction was one of disbelief.
Never in his 30 years of service as national coach has any of his athletes tested positive for a banned substance and Jayabalan believes there is more to this affair than meets the eye.
For Jayabalan is certain, should the ‘B’ sample confirm the initial findings, that his athlete — one of the quartet that won Malaysia a surprise gold medal in the men’s 4x400m in Palembang — would not have breached the rules willingly.
“This is shocking news,” said Jayabalan, 65, when met at the National Sports Complex in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
“I have been a national coach since 1981 and my athletes have won medals at Asian Games, Sea Games and Malaysia Games and not one has failed a doping test.
“When I first heard about it on Tuesday, I thought it was impossible. I did not know whether to believe it or not. I am very upset and sad that this has happened because we worked so hard for the gold medal.
“We gave the athletes the motivation and the will to succeed and I even bade them goodbye on the day they left for Palembang. When they won the gold medal, I was so happy because our struggle had paid off.
“Then this happened and it seems that all our effort was wasted. It is not just me who trained the boys because Hamberi (Mahat) and (S.) Thambu Krishnan also worked with them a lot.
“Together we made them champions. I have never taught my athletes to cheat to win medals, I always advise them to do stay on the right path and this is why I find it difficult to believe that any one of them would take drugs.”
On Wednesday, Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek criticised the Malaysian Athletic Union (MAU) for failing to request a test of the second sample despite being informed of the initial results on Dec 22 by the Olympic Council of Malaysia.
Jayabalan has trained several top athletes over the last three decades, including current MAU vice-president Datuk Mumtaz Jaafar, Nordin Jadi, Samson Vallabouy, Josephine Mary and Zafril Zuslaini.
But the coach now fears that the future of his young athlete has been done irreparable harm.
“These boys were our hope for the future. After they won at the Sea Games, we planned on preparing them for the Asian Games but now his future has been jeopardised, if he is banned,” said Jayabalan, who declined to speculate how the positive test arose.