Former badminton world champion Ratchanok Intanon bears “no fault” after testing positive for doping, the sport’s governing body said Thursday, clearing the path for the Thai star to compete in the 2020 Olympics after another close brush with a possible suspension.
The Badminton World Federation said the women’s world No 5 was found to be in violation of anti-doping regulations earlier this year. But Ratchanok, known as “May” in Thailand, was able to prove that the low amount of the banned substance clenbuterol was related to meat she had eaten at a barbeque restaurant.
“She was found to bear no fault or negligence for the violation, and thus no period of ineligibility has been imposed on her,” the statement said.
The conclusion was reached after taking into account the sufficiently low concentration of clenbuterol in her system, according to the 26-page doping panel decision.
It also cited positive tests of clenbuterol from at least eight samples collected from the restaurant where Ratchanok had eaten meat.
Thailand’s Badminton Federation celebrated the decision in a statement saying Ratchanok was “confident” she did not do anything wrong.
It was the second close call with drug tests for Ratchanok, who broke down in tears in 2016 when cleared of doping.
Back then it was ruled that the detected substance had been administered for a tendon injury and was allowed.
The player has caught the imagination of Thais as much for her rags-to-riches back story as on-court heroics. Her parents are migrants to Bangkok from the country’s poor northeast who worked in menial jobs at a badminton centre on the outskirts of the city. While they worked, Ratchanok honed her on court skills.
This week’s result will come as a relief to the former world no 1 and for Thai sports in general, which is already weathering a doping scandal in weightlifting.
Thai weightlifters were not allowed to compete at the world championships despite the country hosting the event last month after nine Thais – including two reigning Olympic champions – were suspended following positive drug tests since November.
The tests prompted Thailand to voluntarily ban itself from the September championships in Pattaya as well as next year’s Olympics.