KUALA LUMPUR, April 27 — Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu has confirmed that no athletes from the SEA Games contingent have failed doping tests so far.
He said the Anti-Doping Agency of Malaysia (Adamas) would continue to conduct systematic tests on the athletes to ensure that the national contingent is free of doping at the biennial Games.
“Alhamdulillah (thanks to Allah), there are no cases so far. We hope to maintain this, the tests will continue to be done,” he told reporters after making an observation of the training of SEA Games athletes at the National Sports Council (NSC) Complex,, Bukit Jalil, here last night.
No cases of illicit substance use were recorded at the 2019 Philippine SEA Games, but there were cases of Malaysian athletes failing doping tests at the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur and the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia.
Ahmad Faizal said the national contingent would depart in stages starting May 4 for the SEA Games, scheduled to take place officially from May 12 to 23 in Hanoi, Vietnam, with the diving and football competitions starting a week earlier.
He said almost 40 per cent of the athletes selected to represent the country at the Games this time were young athletes who would be making their debut at the international level.
“I hope they will do their utmost best, especially in bettering their personal bests. This is a platform for them to challenge themselves at the international level.
“This is the momentum that we want to bring to the Asian and Commonwealth Games after that (the Hanoi Games). These are the young athletes that we want to bet on in bigger tournaments such as the Paris 2024 Olympics and so on,” he explained.
As such, Ahmad Faizal asked Malaysians, especially sports fans, not to put too much pressure on them to bring home the gold medal, instead give strong support for them to do better than previous personal achievements.
Commenting on the difficulty in getting halal food in Hanoi, Ahmad Faizal said the NSC were ready to cook their own food and supply food packs if the food provided at the hotels (where the national athletes will be staying) is unsuitable for the country’s athletes.
“Based on initial surveys, there are difficulties, so we will bring a dietary team to take care of the athletes’ nutrition, especially concerning halal food and make sure the athletes get the nutrients they need. We have also contacted the hotels to bring our own chefs to cook in the hotel kitchen if necessary, ”he said.
In the meantime, he said the spirit of the country’s athletes was still high despite having to change their training schedule due to Ramadan, not being able to celebrate Eid with their families and compete in the month of Syawal (Aidilfitri month) for the sake of the country.
Earlier, Ahmad Faizal had observed the training of the fencing, karate, shooting, athletics, silat, kurash and judo teams, who are actively training at night due to the fasting month.