Tests have shown there are 10 smokers among the Malaysian national hockey team and they have been ordered into rehab as the country attempts to revive its fortunes, according to a report.
Team manager George Koshy told The Star they will have to attend sessions with doctors at the National Sports Institute (NSI) in a bid to kick the habit.
Advertisement"Not all of them are hard-core smokers. Some claimed that they had stopped smoking while a few others said they were cutting down the habit," said Koshy, without revealing who the culprits were.
"All the 10 players will have to undergo a special rehab programme to help them kick the habit."
Last month NSI director-general Ramlan Aziz blew the lid on the players' smoking habits, saying it had led to poor fitness that contributed to the declining standard of the national team.
Malaysian hockey officials and players came under intense criticism after failing to qualify for last year's Beijing Olympics and finishing last in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, an international tournament held annually in Malaysia.
The newspaper said the team's management was concerned that sending all 10 players into rehab at the same time would cause problems as some would have to deal with withdrawal symptoms.
"It is risky to send them all at one go. We will do it in stages, starting with those who have quit or started cutting down, followed by the hard-core smokers," said Koshy.
He added that all the players in the squad had shown great commitment since training started on January 5.
The team's first assignment is the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup from April 6-12 followed by the Asia Cup in Dubai from May 8-13.