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PSC 'nearing closure' on needed Anti-Doping Code-related revisions

The PSC said that it is now working on certain revisions in adherence to WADA's code. PSC-POC Media Pool (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--The Philippine Sports Commission said on Friday night that it is now close to fully complying with the World Anti-Doping Code, which is necessary to avoid sanctions that could affect Filipino athletes' participation in international events.

According to the PSC, its anti-doping arm, the Philippine National Anti-Doping Organization, is now tweaking some important prerequisites as the World Anti-Doping Agency told them to according to its evaluation.

"After receiving evaluations from WADA, certain revisions relating to critical requirements of the Code, are now being worked upon. PHI-NADO has reported that we are nearing closure for these requirements within a 21-day period," the PSC said.

The PSC even said that a representative from the Philippine Olympic Committee, Secretary General Wharton Chan, was present during an online meeting on Thursday attended by PSC chairman Dickie Bachmann, executive director Paulo Tatad, and officials from WADA and the Southeast Asian Regional Anti-Doping Organization.

"The primary objective of this meeting was to foster open communication, address the pending concerns and revisions raised by WADA, and collaboratively undertake measures to ensure complete compliance at the earliest possible time," the PSC further said.

A person knowledgeable of the situation told Dugout Philippines that the PSC was puzzled as to why the POC suddenly released a statement saying that the government-run sports body is not complying with the WADA Code when Chan was in the Thursday meeting.

According to its news release, the POC claimed that the PSC "barely responded since" WADA first notified them to adhere to the code last September.

However, the PSC said, "A series of activities in relation to the compliance was conducted by PHI-NADO from September to December of last year, prior to the extended deadline set by WADA last January 22nd."

PSC says anti-doping code-related sanctions 'avoidable'

In a copy of the notification letter dated Jan. 23 the POC sent to the media on Friday, WADA warned that if the PSC fails to comply with the WADA code, WADA could slap the Philippines with sanctions which include losing the rights to host international competitions and not allowing the Philippine flag to be flown during such events, including the Olympics.

While it does not necessarily mean Filipino athletes will be barred from joining sporting events, they might not be able to use the name "Philippines" should they be allowed to join.

Oftentimes, athletes representing countries not allowed to have their flags flown in sports events play under their countries' national Olympic committees.

Any medal won by these sportsmen will just be counted for their NOCs and not for the country they are in, which means the all-time medal count for the NOCs will be separate from the all-time count for the countries they are based in.

"We acknowledge the importance of adhering to the WADA Code and upholding the principles of fair play and integrity in sports. In response to the aforementioned allegations, we would like to clarify that the Philippine National Anti-Doping Organization (PHI-NADO), under the auspices of the PSC, has taken prompt and decisive actions to rectify any potential matters related to non-compliance with the WADA Code," the PSC further said.

The statement concluded, "Furthermore, we wish to reassure the public that these possible sanctions are avoidable. We are fully engaged in a constructive dialogue with WADA, working collectively to address any remaining concerns and to ensure that our national athletes can continue to compete on the global stage with honor and integrity.

"We appreciate the understanding of the public and the global sports community as we navigate through this process. 

"The PSC remains resolute in its commitment to upholding the highest standards of sportsmanship and ethical conduct to our national athletes and coaches."

The PSC has until Feb. 13 to dispute the alleged non-compliance.

Follow him on X: @IvanSaldajeno

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