KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian diver who failed a doping test at the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games in August will only be banned for a maximum of two years and not four years as previously reported.
National Anti-Doping Agency of Malaysia (Adamas) deputy director Nishel Kumar said sibutramine, the banned substance the diver had tested positive for, is not viewed as serious an offence as performance enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids or erythropoietin (EPO) by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
Sibutramine is listed under the S6 (specified stimulants) category under the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) World Anti-Doping Code released in January this year.
Anabolic steroids and EPO are placed under the S1 (anabolic agents) and S2 (peptide hormones, growth factors, related substances and mimetics) categories and incur a mandatory 4-year ban under the code.
"Sibutramine is not a performance enhancing drug and is mainly used for weight loss. The main reason it is banned is because it can be harmful for an athletes' health," said Nishel, when contacted today.
"As it does not provide any performance enhancing benefits the maximum ban for those found using it is two years and not four.
"Sibutramine is found in a number of weight loss products and can be quite easily obtainable. Ignorance is usually why some athletes can get caught out."
Wushu exponent Tai Cheau Xuen had tested positive for the same substance at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, where she had won a gold medal.
She was stripped of her win and received a four -month suspension.
Nishel disclosed that the diver can also appeal for a ban shorter than two years but must come up with evidence of how the substance entered her system.
"In Cheau Xuen's case, she had purchased a supplement from China through the internet which had contained sibutramine.
"This is a problem we currently face, as supplements, even those which are not approved, can be easily purchased online.
"She (Cheau Xuen) brought it to us and we tested it, the results showed that it did contain sibutramine.
"As a result she received a shorter four month suspension, as it was considered a case of ignorance from the athlete and the substance was not a performance enhancer.
"The diver must do the same if he or she is hoping to get a reduced suspension."
Sibutramine is an appetite suppressant which aids weight loss. It was, however, banned in the United States in 2010 as it was found to increase the risk cardiovascular issues such as heart attack and stroke among its users.
The drug, however, remains available in many parts of the world including Southeast Asia.
The diver has requested for her B sample to be tested and is waiting for a date for the test to be conducted.
The Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia will only reveal the identity of the diver upon receiving the result of the B sample.