Malaysian Olympic track hopeful faces lengthy doping ban

Despite delay in his federation realising an offence had been committed, track rider Mohd Shah Firdaus Sahrom will now face a ban

An Asian track cyclist who has been tipped as a future Olympian track star faces an 18 month doping ban.

Mohd Shah Firdaus Sahrom tested positive for the banned substance dexamethasone at last June's Malaysia Games - but the Mayalsian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) only realised the 20-year-old had doped in February.

Dexamethasone is an anti-inflammatory substance that can be used outside of competition and under prescription with a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) forms, but it is illegal to use during competition.

An investigation was launched but another is set to take place, at the request of Malaysia's youth and sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin, because of a series of questionable answers in defence of Mohd Shah.

The cyclist, who won the gold medal in the men's 200m sprint final at the competition and then clocked 10.586 seconds in the sprint event at the Hong Kong International Cup in November, claims that the substance must have entered his body via an injection he received at the Asian Championships, held in Kazakhstan's capital city Astana, by a National Sports Institute (NIS) medic.

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Mohd Shah will meet with MNCF's anti doping committee on May 9 for an appeal hearing but it is expected that the 18-month ban will be upheld. The cyclist has been told to bring all witnesses to the injection to the appeal, including the doctor.

"He can't pinpoint how the substance could have been consumed apart from the injection. This is why I have asked for another report, for NSI to go deeper into this and to find out more," Mr Jamaluddin said.

MNCF deputy president Datuk Naim Mohamed said earlier this year that "Mohd Shah is a good track cyclist and was even tipped to replace Olympian Azizulhasni (Awang)".

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Chris Marshall-Bell

Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.

Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.