Victory for badminton-proud Indonesia tainted by doping sanctions
JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia’s victory at badminton's Thomas Cup was unfairly tainted by sanctions imposed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the sports minister of the badminton-proud nation said on Monday.
Shuttlers from the Southeast Asian country bagged a record-extending 14th title on Sunday, defeating China 3-0 to secure a first triumph in the prestigious biennial men's team tournament in almost two decades.
But sanctions imposed by WADA this month meant the winners were prohibited from flying Indonesia's red and white national flag as they received their medals in Denmark.
"We should have enjoyed winning the Thomas Cup after two decades, but that happiness felt lessened because we couldn't raise our red-and-white flag," Indonesia's sports minister Zainudin Amali told a news conference on Monday.
The minister apologised to all Indonesians and said he was working to clear the issue with the anti-doping agency.
Indonesia, Thailand and North Korea were declared non-compliant by WADA, rendering them ineligible to host regional, continental or world championships during the suspension.
The sanctions, which will apply for a one-year period, mean that athletes from those nations can still compete, but are prohibited from flying national flags other than at the Olympics.
Indonesia’s sports ministry previously hit back at WADA, telling local media the sanctions should not have been applied at the Thomas Cup while the issue was still being clarified.
It had been impossible to collect all the samples required amid the coronavirus pandemic, the ministry said.
President Joko Widodo was among those offering their congratulations to the badminton team on Monday, posting video footage of the match point between Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie and China’s Li Shifeng, on his Instagram page.
"The tension watching the nail-biting 2020 Thomas Cup final tonight was soon taken over by the overwhelming feelings of joy when Jonatan Christie jumped, raised his fist into the air, and screamed in delight at the end of his third game. Indonesia is the champion!," he wrote.
China enjoyed better luck in the Uber Cup women's team tournament, which also took place in Aarhus, beating Japan in the final to secure a 10th title in the last 12 editions.
(Reporting by Stanley Widianto in Jakarta; Writing by Kate Lamb; Editing by Ed Osmond)
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