Badminton: Thai star Ratchanok awaits verdict

Thai shuttler Ratchanok Intanon, one of her country's best hopes for a medal in Rio, taking a break during training. It is likely she will know tomorrow if she can take part in the Games.
Thai shuttler Ratchanok Intanon, one of her country's best hopes for a medal in Rio, taking a break during training. It is likely she will know tomorrow if she can take part in the Games.PHOTO: REUTERS

B sample being tested after she gets jab to treat injury; Litvinov hopes for reprieve from CAS

BANGKOK • The chances of Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon participating in next month's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will likely be known tomorrow, after badminton's world governing body decides on her eligibility.

The world No. 4, a former world champion, reportedly failed a dope test during the Uber Cup tournament in China in May - dealing a severe blow to Thailand's hopes of claiming its first badminton medal at the Olympics.

According to the Bangkok Post, a sample taken from Ratchanok has been sent to a laboratory in Japan for a second test and so far there has been no word from the BWF on the result.

It was earlier wrongly reported that she had tested positive during the Asia Championships in China in April. The name of the prohibited substance has yet to be disclosed.

The Badminton Association of Thailand was notified of the positive test last Sunday. It is now working with the BWF to resolve the issue.

The Sports Authority of Thailand had earlier said that all its Olympic athletes, including Ratchanok, had passed doping tests conducted in the past two months.

The player, a former world No. 1, reportedly received an injection to treat a knee injury before the tournament in China and that could possibly be the reason for her sample testing positive, noted the Bangkok Post.

Another hopeful expecting a reprieve is Russian hammer thrower Sergei Litvinov, who believes his country's athletes will be given a lifeline by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to compete in Rio.

Sport's highest court is set to rule by Thursday on Russia's suspension from track and field (over systematic state-sponsored doping) and he is confident it will overturn the ban in time for the Games.

"From a legal point of view, we have very good chances," the 30-year-old said yesterday.

Litvinov, who won bronze at the 2014 European Championships, would be one of Russia's biggest hopes for a medal in Rio. But, with just three weeks to go, he still does not know if he can compete.

"Being clean in legal terms gives us very good chances of getting a positive verdict,"he said. "To be honest, there are a lot of emotions at the moment and I hope that the CAS lawyers will look into this case from a professional legal point of view and without showing any emotion. This is what everything will depend on."

Meanwhile, tennis' world governing body reassured players and fans yesterday over the threat posed by the Zika virus in Rio, after Wimbledon men's runner-up Milos Raonic and women's world No. 5 Simona Halep pulled out of the Olympics on Friday citing health fears over the mosquito-borne disease.

They became just the latest big names to snub the Games, which has been hit by the mass withdrawal of the world's top male golfers.

"While we understand and respect the concerns over the Zika virus, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) has assured us that all precautions will be taken to limit the risk to athletes, officials and fans," International Tennis Federation president David Haggerty said.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 17, 2016, with the headline 'Ratchanok awaits verdict'. Print Edition | Subscribe