The national cycling team at the start of the men's 100km team time trial at the 27th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Naypyidaw, Myanmar last December. Picture: BT/Yee Chun Leong
National cycling coach Yafiz Jamaludin was on the receiving end of more bad news yesterday.
Brunei's top cyclist Muhammad Raihaan Abd Aziz was slapped with a two-year ban from 25 January 2014 - 24 January 2016 after been found positive for doping by the Brunei Darussalam Ant-Doping Committee (BDADC).
Yafiz felt that it was a big loss for the Sultanate and hopes that the ban could somehow be shortened.
"For me... it is simple. We've lost a strong rider for two SEA Games (2013 and 2015) and I'm really sad," said Yafiz in an interview with The Brunei Times when contacted yesterday.
"I hope they will accept his appeal. If they give him one year it is enough," he added.
When asked if athletes in the Sultanate are not educated on illegal substances resulting in problems like these, Yafiz replied: "Maybe. But I won't blame anybody."
Raihaan was dropped from the cycling team just ahead of the 27th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Naypyidaw, Myanmar in December.
It was devastation for Yafiz, who had built the team around his strongest rider, for the biennial Games.
Only five riders - Ahmad Rifa'ie Hj Johor, Muhammad I'maadi Abd Aziz and Reduan Yusop, Muhammad Rafiuddin Zikara and Azmi @ Lokman Abd Hadzid - boarded the plane to Myanmar, and the Dec 11-22 Games was certainly one to forget.
The national cycling team opened their account in the competition with the cross country olympic event at Mount Pleasant where both participants - Rafiuddin and I'maadi - failed to complete the race.
The main target was a strong finish for Rafiuddin, but he was hit by bad luck after suffering a tyre puncture in the first lap of the 4.1km course.
Rafiuddin was the only Bruneian in the men's 50km individual time trial two days later, where he finished 14th out of 18 participants.
He clocked a time of 1:18:49 in what was his first attempt in the event.
The team then finished second last out of eight countries - beating only hosts Myanmar - in the men's 100km team time trial.
They clocked a time of 3:03:43 and were 27 minutes off the pace from winners Vietnam.
Only three out of the five Bruneian riders crossed the line at the Leiway Clock Tower in the final-eight rider peloton for a combined time of 14:39:12 in the team classification.
The trio of Ahmad Rifa'ie Hj Johor, Muhammad I'maadi Abd Aziz and Reduan Yusop each came in at 4:53:04 while Muhammad Rafiuddin Zikara and Azmi @ Lokman Abd Hadzid were two out of the eight riders that failed to complete the race, which started with 48 participants at the Lane Li Bridge.
Yafiz is currently in India for the 2nd Mountain Bike (MTB) Kerala International Mountain Cycling Competition.
Mohd Nurjamri Johari and Rafiuddin are representing Brunei while compatriot Muhammad Syazwi Azhar Muhammad Hairolrani is riding for CCN.