KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian shuttler Lee Chong Wei was handed a backdated eight-month ban for doping by the Badminton World Federation on Monday (Apr 27), keeping alive the former world number one's dream of winning gold at the Rio Olympics next year.
The 32-year-old Malaysian, twice an Olympic silver medallist, had been under a provisional suspension since November after testing positive for anti-inflammatory drug dexamethasone during the world championships three months earlier.
Lee, the winner of 55 titles around the world, had his case heard by a three-member panel in Amsterdam on Apr 11 and faced a two-year ban which would have all but ended his career but the Kuala Lumpur-based BWF opted for a softer sentence.
Lee will be eligible to compete again on Friday (May 1), and can represent Malaysia at the upcoming SEA Games in Singapore in June.
"The panel is convinced this is not a case of doping with intent to cheat," the world governing body said in a statement.
The panel found that Lee had been "negligent", but ruled that the degree of negligence was "rather light". His dexamathesone contamination was said to be from the gelatin casing of food supplement he was consuming.
Lee's inactivity - his last match was a defeat to China's Chen Long in the world championship final - has seen his ranking slump to 30th in the world.
The qualifying period for the Rio de Janeiro Games begins on May 4 and will run for a year.
Lee, one of Malaysia's favourite sporting sons, remains the country's top-ranked shuttler and was nominated last week for Malaysia's 2014 Sportsman of the Year award.