Malaysia lose appeal against doping failure

Incheon (South Korea) (AFP) - Malaysia promised to hand back the Asian Games gold medal won by wushu champion Tai Cheau Xuen after an appeal against her dope test expulsion failed on Thursday.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rejected Tai's challenge at a speeded up hearing held on the sidelines of the Games in the South Korean city of Incheon.

"We will accept the decision. We are not sore losers. They gave us a fair hearing," Malaysia's chef de mission Danyal Balagopal told AFP, adding that the medal would now be handed back.

"I feel very sad for the girl. I don't think she had any intention to cheat." The verdict was given on Tai's 23rd birthday.

Tai's A and B urine samples tested positive for the banned stimulant sibutramine, but Tai had challenged the testing procedures.

The CAS said though that an international panel had made a decision "dismissing the application of the athlete and confirming the Olympic Council of Asia decision to disqualify her from the Games."

Senior Malaysian officials said there could have been an accidental mix-up in the handling of the samples taken after Tai won the gold medal on September 20.

Malaysia had protested Tai's innocence and retained the gold medal. Games organisers had urged Malaysia to return the medal.

Balagopal said officials would look into Tai's case to see how the stimulants could have got into her system.

"We need to go back and look at it. We have a very stringent anti-doping policy in our country ... We have learned some hard lessons," he said.

Sieh Kok Chi, secretary-general of the Olympic Council of Malaysia, said Tai should speak out if she consumed the stimulant by accident.

"If she wasn't trying to cheat, she should share her experience. I believe our athlete innocently took it without realising the seriousness," he said.

"Maybe she has been taking slimming pills, I don't know... All the athletes must be more careful," he said.

Tai's disqualification altered the medal allocation, with Indonesia's Juwita Niza Wasni promoted from silver to gold.

Five athletes have failed doping tests at the Games and been expelled. The OCA says that a record 1,900 athletes out of some 9,500 in Incheon will undergo drug tests.

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