The Badminton World Federation (BWF) said on Tuesday it had lifted a one-year ban imposed on South Korean star Lee Yong-Dae for missing doping tests, after "new evidence" came to light.
Lee Yong-Dae of South Korea, pictured during the Thomas Cup world badminton team championships, in central China's city of Wuhan, Hubei province, on May 25, 2012
The Kuala Lumpur-based federation did not disclose the nature of the evidence but said the ban on the 2008 Olympic gold medallist and another South Korean player, Kim Ki-Jung, "has been reversed and they are eligible to resume playing immediately".
Imposed in January after the players were absent during visits by anti-doping inspectors, the one-year ban had ruled both out of the Asian Games which begin in the South Korean port city of Incheon in September.
The BWF said evidence presented on the players' behalf at an initial hearing on the case in January was "insufficient and ambiguous", but the new information changed the picture.
The Badminton Korea Association (BKA) said its administrative errors were to blame and the BWF last month fined the association $40,000 for failing to provide the two players with necessary information about the testing rules.
"Now Lee and Kim can freely train and compete, including international competitions," BKA head Shin Geh-Ryeun told reporters in Seoul on Tuesday.
Lee, 25, won mixed doubles gold at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and took a bronze in the men's doubles in London in 2012.
A huge star in the South, he will be a main draw at the Asian Games.
The BKA's mea culpa did not prevent hundreds of angry Lee fans taking to social networks and news portals to denounce the forced hiatus in their idol's career.
"I hope that the $40,000 fine will be paid personally by Shin and all the other incompetent officials at the BKA," wrote one fan on Naver.com, the country's largest Internet portal.