A fairytale ending for Gilas Pilipinas could possibly turn into a nightmare.
Officials from the Switzerland-based International Testing Agency (ITA) revealed that Justin Brownlee has failed a doping test conducted on October 7, a day after Gilas ended a 61-year gold medal drought for the Philippines at the Asian Games.
The prized import tested positive for Carboxy-THC, a substance included in the prohibited list of the World Anti-Doping Agency. Carboxy-THC is associated with cannabis use.
“The sample was collected by the ITA at the Asian Games Hangzhou 2022 during an in-competition anti-doping control performed on 7 October 2023.” read the statement on the ITA site, which adds that the sample was collected by China’s anti-doping agency.
The ITA adds that Brownlee, and in effect, Gilas, can appeal the decision via “the right to request analysis of the B samples.”
The case will then be forwarded to the Anti-Doping Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport for adjudication under the Olympic Council of Asia’s Anti-Doping Rules.
But does this mean Gilas could lose its gold medal? In a similar incident, Filipino cyclist Ariana Evangelista was provisionally suspended after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
Rules are a bit different for team sports as stated in the 2023 Olympic Council of Asia Anti-Doping Rules, which were adopted for the Hangzhou Asian Games.
According to Article 11.2 of the handbook, if two or more members of a team sport are found to have violated the rules, the Event Organizer shall impose sanctions on the team, i.e. disqualification.
Brownlee is the only one who tested positive for a banned substance on the Philippine national team.
However, Article 11.3 states that the Event Ruling Body (in this case, China) can impose stricter rules than those stated in Article 11.2.
In related news, silver medalist Jordan is also grappling with a doping controversy after player Sami Bzai failed his own test.
China, which nabbed bronze following its beatdown of Chinese Taipei, could possibly find itself with the gold, depending on the outcome of this shocking development.