Sports Commissioner Datuk Zaiton Othman claims that the body does not have the legal right to suspend the beleaguered Malaysian Weightlifting Federation (MWF).
She added that the Sports Development Act was clear on this and even went further to cite Section 20 of the Act to back up her statement.
If we were to dial back to the year 2002, the Sports Commissioner’s Office used that exact section to de-register the Malaysian Amateur Athletics Union (MAAU).
Dato Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, who was the Sports Minister, acting on the advice of the then Sports Commissioner Datuk Mahamad Zabri Min saw fit to take action against MAAU.
And the reason given was that the MAAU was hindering the development of athletics in Malaysia and it was in the public interest to revoke their registration.
The MAAU’s appeal was also rejected by the Minister and as per Section 21 of the Act, the Minister’s decision was final.
This prompted the Asian Amateur Athletic Association to register their displeasure with the process and the autocratic nature of the Act by which the MAAU was booted out.
Malaysia failure to shine at the 2001 SEA Games, where they managed to win only eight gold medals instead of the target of 16 set, was the trigger that set off the problems for MAAU.
It was also no secret that some senior MAAU officials were at loggerheads with the National Sports Council officials compounded matters.
The MAAU was restructured under the supervision of the Ministry to ensure it was professional in developing the sport.
The irony was that Malaysian athletes never again won more than eight gold medals in the SEA Games. At the KL2017, Malaysia only managed 8-8-9 haul.
Coming back to MWF, it cannot hide away from the fact that it had failed to properly monitor the scourge of doping. A self-imposed ban is not going to cut it.
The MAAU was deemed to have hindered the progress of the sport because they could not meet a medal target, the MWF is certainly guilty of a much bigger indiscretion.
Consider the fact that three of those tested positive were only aged between 16 and 21.
Malaysia is almost certain of being slapped with a two year ban by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF). If that happens, Malaysia will miss not only this year’s Asian Games but also the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as well.
It is highly unlikely that MWF will escape sanction this time. The Malaysian weightlifters were lucky to have participated at the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships last year and the Commonwealth Games after they avoided an earlier anticipated doping ban from the IWF.
The IWF, which conducted the out of competition tests, have now doubled from two years to four. The decision was to take effect in April, just three days before the three Malaysians were tested.
Had the tests taken place on April 1, MWF would be facing a bigger sanction.
Malaysia now has the unenviable record of ten lifters being tested positive since 2008, with the bulk of the coming in the last calendar year. And additional lifter also tested positive but that was not conducted by the IWF but the local doping agency ADAMAS.
Late last year, weightlifting was also kicked out of the Malaysia Games (SUKMA ).
The Sports Commissioner has a tough call to make. To say that the Sports Development Act does not empower Zaiton, as the Commissioner to recommend the suspension or even de-registration of the MWF is questionable.
However, will such sanctions make any difference? It certainly did not help MAAU (now known as the Malaysia Athletics Federation (MAF)) find a magical elixir of success.