Justin Brownlee may have unknowingly taken prescription medicine containing cannabis while recovering in the United States, where he had surgery to remove bone spurs from his foot, the reason the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) gave the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), the Inquirer learned.
The nation awoke to news that the naturalized ace of Gilas Pilipinas, which ended a 61-year wait to win the Asian Games (Asiad) gold medal last week, failed a doping test conducted by the International Testing Agency (ITA) during the tournament that put him in danger of being suspended for at least two years.
POC president Bambol Tolentino, though, assured the country that the gold will remain in the hands of the Filipinos as Olympic Council of Asia rules stipulate that there should be at least three players that need to be found positive in order for a team to be disqualified or stripped of whatever medal.
It was also Tolentino who told the Inquirer over the phone of the SBP’s initial finding on how the prohibited substance Carboxy-THC, which has traces of cannabis use, was found in Brownlee’s urine sample.
“The SBP told me that Brownlee stayed for a long time in the US to recover (from a surgery),” Tolentino said. “They think it came from medicines he was prescribed there. And as you know, there are a lot of States that have legalized (cannabis) for treatment.
‘Form of therapy’
“Marijuana as a form of therapy is legal in a lot of parts of the world now, including Thailand.”
Brownlee had been training with Gilas in the lead-up to the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) World Cup, which the country cohosted with Indonesia and Japan. He excused himself in late July when Jordan Clarkson, the half-Filipino who plays for Utah in the NBA, confirmed his participation in the 32-nation spectacle eventually won by Germany.
The resident Barangay Ginebra import in the PBA took that time to have the bone spurs removed, as the injury had been nagging him in the past and knowing that he can be tapped in lieu of Clarkson for the Asiad.
He played with that injury in the Cambodia Southeast Asian Games, where he led the PH crew to the gold over the hosts.
Only the POC, through Tolentino, is allowed to speak on the matter and the concurrent mayor of Tagaytay gave the assurance that the labors of the National Five in Hangzhou, China, will not go to waste.
“They need to find at least three players (with failed drug tests) for us to be stripped,” Tolentino said. “And since the results of that testing day had come out already, all the 11 other members of the team have effectively been cleared.”
Sam Bzai of Jordan, which disputed the title with the Philippines in Hangzhou, was also found to have traces of a performance-enhancing steroid. No other Jordanian player, whose samples were also collected on the same day as the Filipinos, failed the drug test.
Brownlee was the second Filipino bet to test positive for drugs in the Asiad, the first being Ariana Evangelista, the mountain biking ace who is also in the process of appealing her suspension.