FUZHOU (CHINA) - Chinese badminton superstar Lin Dan says he hopes world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei can clear his name of doping charges soon, and return to competing on the court.
Speaking after his first-round match at the China Open in Fuzhou on Wednesday, where he beat Chinese Taipei's Hsu Jen-hao 21-15, 23-21, Lin told Xinhua news agency he felt sorry for his off-court pal and long-time on-court rival.
"I hope Chong Wei will come back to court as soon as possible," said the five-time world champion and two-time Olympic champion.
"Not only Malaysia need him, but the whole badminton world also need him."
World badminton governing bosy BWF confirmed on Tuesday that Malaysia's top badminton player Lee has been provisionally suspended over an apparent anti-doping regulation violation.
He is temporarily barred from competition after testing positive to the banned anti-inflammatory dexamethasone, for which he could face an eventual suspension of up to two years.
Duels between Lin and Lee clash have always been regarded as top games in world badminton, and hotly anticipated by fans worldwide. The pair enjoyed a friendly but fierce rivalry over the past decade.
They met on court 33 times since 2004, with Lin having a 24-9 edge over his Malaysian rival.
Throughout his career, Lin has made a habit of denying Lee several world and Olympic titles.
Li Yongbo, head coach of the Chinese national badminton team, said he still did not believe that Lee would intentionally use illegal drugs to enhance his performance.
"I hope Lee' s scandal is not real," coach Li said. "Because I still want to see the Lin-Lee rivalary.
"They always bring the great entertaining matches to the fans.
"Without this rivalry, world badminton would be poorer for it."