SEA Games: Gold for Singapore after Malaysian champion fails dope test?

Malaysian diver Wendy Ng Yan Yee emerged yesterday as the athlete who had failed a doping test. Should she be stripped of her two titles, Singapore's silver medallists Ashlee Tan and Fong Kay Yian are then likely to claim gold.
Malaysian diver Wendy Ng Yan Yee emerged yesterday as the athlete who had failed a doping test. Should she be stripped of her two titles, Singapore's silver medallists Ashlee Tan and Fong Kay Yian are then likely to claim gold.PHOTO: BERNAMA

Singapore is in line for an unexpected SEA Games diving gold two months after the Kuala Lumpur edition ended, following confirmation of the identity of the Malaysian diver who tested positive at the Games in August.

Two-time Olympian Wendy Ng Yan Yee emerged yesterday as the athlete - identified previously only as a Malaysian female diving gold medallist - who had failed a doping test. Her B sample also tested positive for sibutramine, a stimulant that has appetite suppressing effects and has been found in slimming products.

The 24-year-old won two golds at the SEA Games: The 3m springboard, and another partnering Nur Dhabitah Sabri in the synchronised 3m springboard.

Should Ng be stripped of her two titles, Singapore's silver medallists Ashlee Tan and Fong Kay Yian are likely to claim gold. It would be the country's first Games diving title since the 1973 South-east Peninsular Games (precursor to the SEA Games), when Sally Lim won the 3m springboard event on home soil.

Malaysia would retain the individual 3m springboard crown as Nur Dhabitah had finished second, while Singapore's Tan would get a silver instead of bronze.

Tan said: "While we are waiting to be notified of the official results, this is definitely unexpected and comes as a surprise to both me and Kay Yian."

The medal reshuffle would increase Singapore's tally in KL to 58 golds, 59 silvers and 72 bronzes. The Singapore National Olympic Council and Singapore Swimming Association said they have not received any official confirmation.

Singapore athletes have been awarded medals post-Games before. The men's 4x200m freestyle relay team finished fourth at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games but were later awarded bronze after South Korea, who were third, had star swimmer Park Tae Hwan disqualified for doping offences.

Olympic Council of Malaysia secretary-general Low Beng Choo told The Straits Times yesterday that she believed Ng will likely appeal, given "this is not a performance-enhancing drug per se".

Ms Low explained that any hearings will take place on two platforms - one by a SEA Games Federation (SEAGF) panel to deal with the result at the Games, the other by the sport's national governing body to decide on the suspension, if any.

Sibutramine is listed as a prohibited substance in the World Anti-Doping Agency's 2017 prohibited list, and the penalties could be as severe as a four-year ban.

Ms Low said any hearings are expected to take place within a fortnight, but the result of reallocation of medals will likely be announced only at the next SEAGF meeting. No date has been set as yet. She added: "All I can say is it has taken us by surprise. We did a lot of education with our athletes, but it still happened."

Ms Low said there were no updates on the other two athletes who failed doping tests at the Games.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 27, 2017, with the headline 'Gold for S'pore after Malaysian fails drug test?'. Print Edition | Subscribe