KUALA LUMPUR: The 'accidental doper' situation has surfaced once too often as far as the Anti Doping Agency of Malaysia (Adamas) is concerned, with yet another athlete testing positive for a substance that could have easily been avoided.
And at the bottom of it all is “foolishness” brought about by the lack of awareness on the part of the athletes and their minders, while the authorities and administration will now have to push effectively to educate all involved in sport on doping.
Adamas director Datuk Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz, declining to comment on the case of the Sea Games diving gold medallist currently facing a ban after testing positive for a banned substance during the biennial Games, preferred to look at how to put a stop to such occurrences.
“Generally, we have already embarked on an educational programme with the Sports Department of the Youth and Sports Ministry, but this now shows we have to push for more. It will be difficult, but we have to make it clear and push it through," said Dr Ramlan.
The athlete involved is currently awaiting a date to be set by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited lab in New Delhi to be present to observe tests on her B sample, following which indications are that the Malaysian contingent are keen to pursue an appeal process.
With her A sample testing positive for sibutramine, the diver could avoid the full wrath of the WADA code, which is a four-year ban, based on previous cases involving similar suppressants or anti-inflammatory medications where athletes have seen appeals result in bans reduced to a matter of months.
Dr Ramlan, then heading the National Sports Institute (NSI), had been part of the appeals team that saw 2014 Asian Games wushu exponent Tai Cheau Xuen have her four-year ban reduced to four months after also testing positive for sibutramine and was stripped of the gold medal she won in Incheon, South Korea.
Sibutramine, which acts mainly as an appetite suppressant found in certain dietary supplements, is not a performance enhancing drug, thus Dr Ramlan views its surfacing in urine samples of athletes mainly down to mistakes due to lack of awareness or downright carelessness.
“It is down to foolishness and the lack of education on the matter. Whenever such incidents occur, it is also important for us to not just look at meting out punishment," said Dr Ramlan.
“Once the dust has settled, we will have to look to understand the circumstances which resulted in this mistake. But we must understand that even good people do make mistakes. What we must pursue then, is to arrest the problem and stop it from happening again."
He said the athlete will be engaged as a government-sponsored personality, where Adamas will be able to use her experiences to get the message through to other athletes and their minders through anti-doping educational programmes which will need to be intensified.
“If you want to reach out to others to help them quit smoking, you can't be asking someone who hasn't smoked before. The same goes here. We will need the cooperation from the athletes and their association to get the message through,” said Dr Ramlan.
“At the same time, we need the national sports associations (NSAs) to also understand the severity of such mistakes and why they need to cooperate with Adamas in our programmes.
“Having said that, the aquatics association - the Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (ASUM) - is a good association when it comes to such matters. But there are associations which are a problem when dealing with anti-doping efforts.
“This happened to an athlete despite being from one of the good associations, so this should serve as a message to all that they need to cooperate.”
He said Adamas is also in the process of completing a long held up process of tabling recommendations for an anti-doping legislation, which would see the agency armed with an act of law in the battle against the more serious substance abuse and use of performance enhan