Swimmer prays for dispensation from ban

After failing a drug test at the start of the year, Hong Kong’s top swimmer and asthma sufferer David Wong Kai-wai is hoping for a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) to escape a lengthy ban.

The swimmer is believed to have taken the medicine prescribed by his doctor to treat asthma and it had a banned substance and swimmers are required to get prior approval from the international federation before using it.

The 24-year-old Wong holds Hong Kong records in freestyle, butterfly and relay events. He also won a gold medal in the men’s 200 meters at a short-course World Cup meeting in the United Arab Emirates in 2011. The swimmer, a multiple Hong Kong record holder, tested positive for a banned substance, according to a confirmation by Hong Kong Swimming Association honorary secretary Ronnie Wong Man-chiu who also revealed that a hearing would be held soon.

Ronnie however believed the swimmer had no intention of using drugs to enhance his performance and said the swimmer applied for a TUE before he was tested positive and he continued taking part in domestic competitions despite the fact that the therapeutic use exemption has yet to be approved. The official said David Won was selected for a doping test in January and unfortunately, the result, which came back last month, was positive.

It is believed that the Hong Kong Anti-Doping Committee, with advice from FINA, the world governing body of swimming, will issue the TUE for Wong within the week.

According to FINA rules, a TUE is required to be obtained first by competitors with a documented medical condition requiring the use of a prohibited substance and the presence of a prohibited substance consistent with the provisions of an applicable TUE and issued pursuant to the international standard for therapeutic use exemptions shall not be considered an anti-doping rule violation.

The Hong Kong Swimming Association honorary secretary said we believe there is no intention of using drugs to help improve performance in this case and the swimmer just failed to follow the proper procedures and was too eager to compete without obtaining a therapeutic use exemption first but this is still a case of a drug violation and we think there should be some sort of punishment as a warning. He also added that the Hong Kong Swimming Association had studied similar cases from other parts of the world and believed a sanction of two to three months would be appropriate for a swimmer with no previous record of drug usage.

Former Asian Games BMX gold medalist Steven Wong failed an out-of-competition test two months ago in Belgium for anabolic steroids last April and former badminton world No. 1 Zhou Mi also received a two-year ban in 2010 when she tested positive for Clenbuterol. Zhou Mi, the Hong Kong shuttler, said the over-the-counter medicine she took did not contain Clenbuterol and it may most likely came from contaminated pork. She was given a 2-year ban for doping when traces of Clenbuterol were found in her urine samples during a test taken out of competition on June 28th, 2010.

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