ZHOU MI – “I did not take drugs in order to play better”

Hong Kong number 1 player Zhou Mi was banned by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) for 2 years after she tested positive for Clenbuterol.  She appeared in a press conference […]

Hong Kong number 1 player Zhou Mi was banned by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) for 2 years after she tested positive for Clenbuterol.  She appeared in a press conference in Hong Kong on Saturday, and explained she didn’t take the medicine intentionally. She will  appeal  the 2-year ban decision.

By Raphaël Sachetat. Photos (Archives) : Badmintonphoto

I am sorry. I did not take drugs intentionally,” said a sobbing Zhou Mi  in front of the local media in Hong Kong.  The shuttler had just learned that she had been banned for 2 years from any badminton competition after she failed a drug test which was conducted out of competition on June 28th. Two weeks before, Zhou Mi acknowledged she had taken over-the-counter Chinese medicine in Singapore before the Li-Ning Singapore Open Super Series, as stated in a press release from her National Association, the Hong Kong Badminton Association.

During training in Singapore on 13 June, her health condition became worse and she got a fever. By recommendation of pharmacy store staff, she bought some Chinese medication,” read the statement, confirmed by Zhou Mi herself on Saturday.

I did not take drugs to make my game better. I was just ill and needed to take some medicine and I was unaware that this specific Chinese Medicine contained any forbidden substance. I did not take it intentionally. And the best proof is that I lost in first rounds of both the Singapore and Indonesia Opens,” added Zhou Mi.  The third seed from Hong Kong indeed was out of both tournaments, beaten by Japan’s Sato in Singapore and Firdasari in Indonesia.

The Hong Kong shuttler also mentioned that she would appeal the decision to ban her for 2 years. “I have always followed the WADA rules and when I came to Hong Kong, it was just to pursue my badminton career as long as I could. I have been passing tests for about 20 years in my career. I had no intention of violating the rules and I believe I don’t deserve such a heavy penalty,” Zhou said.

“A clear signal” – BWF

Earlier in the day, the BWF sent out a press release explaining the situation where a BWF Doping Hearing conducted in Copenhagen on Monday, August 23rd, had banned Zhou Mi (HKG) for 2 years from participation in badminton, following an “Adverse Analytical Finding of a urine sample taken from Zhou Mi on June 28 as part of the BWF’s ‘out-of-competition’ testing programme. ZHOU Mi tested positive to Clenbuterol, a Class 1 Anabolic Agent on the WADA Prohibited List of substances.”

BWF is fortunate that this is the first case that the BWF has ruled on for a number of years. The case sends a strong message to elite athletes in the sport who need to be aware of Prohibited Substances and the consequences of taking these – either deliberately or inadvertently,” the BWF press release quoted its COO Thomas Lund as saying.

The two year ban is a severe punishment and stands clear where the governing body intends to go into fighting doping regardless of whether the shuttler had taken a forbidden substance intentionally or not.

It is also a lesson to remember for all shuttlers to be aware of what kind of medicine they take at any time and always get advice from knowledgeable doctors. Self medication can be obviously a threat to one’s career.

Should the ban be confirmed and withstand Zhou Mi’s appeal, it will mean that she will not be eligible to participate in the upcoming Asian Games in Guangzhou, to try to retain a title that Hong Kong had won through the now-retired Wang Chen in 2006 in Doha.  This could also mean the end of Zhou Mi’s career as the 31-year-old shuttler might not be willing to go on training for 2 years with no competition before returning at the age of 33, after missing the Olympic Games in London 2012 – one of her set targets when she came back to competition under the Hong Kong flag after being deprived of a fair semi-final in Athens against then-compatriot Zhang Ning.

Raphaël Sachetat

About Raphaël Sachetat

Raphael is the Chief Editor of Badzine International. He is the founder of the website together with Jean François Chauveau. After many years writing for the BWF and many publications around the world about badminton, he now leads a team of young and dynamic writers for Badzine.