Disqualified Athlete Blames Energy Drink

A Cambodian soft tennis player who was disqualified from the Asian Games last week after testing positive for a banned substance blamed a popular energy drink and a lack of education on nutrition prior to the competition for her dismissal Tuesday.

Yi Sophany, 19, tested positive for the banned substance Sibutramine after providing a precompetition urine sample on September 16 and was forced to return from South Korea to Cambodia on Friday without hitting a single ball.

Ms. Sophany said she was shocked at testing positive for the banned substance, which is usually prescribed for weight loss, and was told by her doctor that it can be found in energy drinks.

“I just didn’t understand…even my Khmer doctor was surprised,” she said in an interview at Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium.“I thought, ‘What is doping?’ I’d never used any drug in my life.”

After consultation with her doctor, Ms. Sophany suspected that Sting, a popular energy drink, might have caused the positive test. She said she was drinking up to four cans a day.

“We were told to be careful of banned substances before the games but were not given any list of bans to avoid,” she said. “The doctor from the doping committee said it [Sibutramine] can be found in energy drinks, and Sting is my favorite drink.”

“There needs to be more education about doping to prevent this because we are not sure what we can and can’t take,” Ms. Sophany added. “There needs to be more education from the Ministry of Health, too.”

The tennis player, who adopted the soft ball form of the game last year, said she was distraught by the disqualification, especially after local media outlets reported that she had deliberately taken the drug.

She said that due to the light nature of her violation, she was free to take part in future competitions, including the Asian Games and the Southeast Asian Games.

“I’m really sorry I was banned from the Incheon games because they are very big, but I will keep training to compete in other games,” Ms. Sophany said.

“I will stop drinking Sting. I will not even drink Coke anymore.”

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