KUALA LUMPUR: Badminton world number one Lee Chong Wei could have a tough time competing in tournaments if he does quit the sport's governing body in Malaysia.
On Wednesday, the three-time Olympic silver medallist and men's singles world number one threatened to "quit" the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) over a spat with technical director and former world champion, Morten Frost.
It was made worse by an injury that will keep Lee out of next month's All England Championship.
"This injury is the last straw," the three-time Olympic silver medallist and men's singles world number one told The Star on Wednesday (Feb 8). "What’s even more hurtful was the way Morten handled my injury," he said, adding that he had lost his patience with the BAM technical director.
"Instead of asking about my condition, he asked my coach (Hendrawan) whether I would retire ... why? Hendrawan kept telling me to be patient and I respected that. Now, I’ve lost my patience and I’m angry ... if there’s no solution, I’ll quit BAM," The Star quoted Lee saying.
Lee reportedly tore the medial collateral ligament in his left knee on Saturday, blaming it on a slippery mat at the newly opened Academy Badminton Malaysia in Bukit Kiara. He said he had complained about the mats prior to his injury but action was not taken soon enough.
Dr Wirdati Mohd Radzi from the University Malaya Sports Centre told Channel NewsAsia a player who quits BAM would not be able to compete in BAM or international federation-sanctioned competitions.
"While Chong Wei is a professional player in his own right, he could not compete in any of these events," she said.
"If there is any professional circuit that has no relation or connection to the Badminton World Federation or its national chapter, then he could still play. To represent Malaysia, you have to get the endorsement of the BAM, which in this case, is not an option, therefore he will not be able to."
A source with the BAM - which is no longer officially commenting on the matter for now - was less final in an assessment of Lee's future.
"If he quits BAM, he will train at his own expense, perhaps with a sponsor of his own, and can participate in any tournaments that he qualifies for - but he has to register his entry through BAM," the person told Channel NewsAsia.
"He may be called upon to play for Malaysia in team events."
Ties between Lee and Morten have been strained for some time, according to The Star.
When contacted, Morten told Channel NewsAsia he was unable to comment on the situation. Channel NewsAsia has also reached out to Lee for comment.
Meanwhile, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has spoken to both the deputy BAM president Mohammad Norza Zakaria and Lee about the situation and believes it can be resolved "amicably".
"I think it can be handled properly and I’ve had a word with Chong Wei already," he said at a news conference on Wednesday. "My view is we need both Morten and Chong Wei so we need to work out whatever issues there are to ensure both parties remain committed to BAM."
Mohammad Norza echoed similar sentiments and said both parties need to place BAM's interests above all else.
"I do not want everything that has been achieved previously to go to waste because Chong Wei is an inspiration to all players, while Frost has his KPI (key performance indicator).
“Frost has a mission to position Malaysia in the world's top three, as well as hunt for the country's first Olympic gold," Bernama cited him telling reporters.
BAM is the governing body for badminton in Malaysia, affiliated to the Badminton World Federation (BWF), the Badminton Asia (BA) and the Olympic Council of Malaysia.