Fresh from his role at the Southeast Asian games, Dr Surendar Singh Cheema is once again in the limelight when Malaysia appointed as a deputy chef de mission to the Asian Games Indonesia 2018.
His expertise in drugs and doping has once more been recognised. And Dr SS Cheema, as he is more popularly known, is the first Malaysian Sikh to hold that position in the Malaysian contingent.
“It’s an honour to be appointed to this prestigious post as a Sikh as we are a minority in Malaysia. The role is challenging but due to my experience in sports for so long I’m up to it with the co-operation of all officials and athletes,” he told Asia Samachar in a text message.
Last year, he was given the honours to chair the medicine and doping team for the Southeast Asia games. As the chairman of the SEA Games Federation (SEAGF) Medical Committee, he marshalled close to 2,000 officials to oversee all the medical services and doping checks for the regional games.
The 63-year old sports and medicine veteran is already in Indonesia with the Malaysian contingent.
In a statement earlier, Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Norza Zakaria warned athletes for the Asian Games to stay away from taking any form of drugs to ensure that it will be a clean Games for Malaysia for once, noting that the last two games had been tainted with doping issues despite all efforts taken to create awareness among the athletes.
“This time, eyes will be on athletes in Indonesia. We’ve a credible team, including experts to take care of the athletes,” he was qoutd in The Star newspaper. “We’ve appointed deputies, who know about doping. They know what should and should not be taken.
“Both are here with the team and there should not be any case of athletes claiming ignorance in consuming drinks or food that consist banned stuff. We’ve done our part and it’s now up to the athletes to stay away from drugs.”
At the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April 2018, the newspaper reported that weightlifter Mohd Fazrul Azrie Mohdad had tested positive for anabolic steroids while diver Wendy Ng Yan Yee had to return two gold medals won at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games last year after she also tested positive for sibutramine.
On his part, Dr Cheema is a seasoned hand in managing medical sports. He is also an active Sikh volunteer, being the first secretary general for the Malaysian Hockey Confederation.
His involvement in the sports goes back to 1991 when he was first elected vice president of the Malaysian Singapore Sikh Sports Council (MSSSC) and vice president of the Malaysian Hockey Federation in 2002.
On the Sikh NGO front, he is the current chairman of the Malaysian Sikh Education Aid Fund (MSEAF) and the patron of MSSSC.
On the medical side, among others, he was the Medical Commissioner of the Commonwealth Games 1998 and doping control officer in charge for the World Cup Hockey 2002, both in Kuala Lumpur.
Silent heroes powering major sporting events (Asia Samachar, 13 Aug 2017)