At the height of the doping issue against tennis superstar Maria Sharapova, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman Ricardo Garcia wants to ensure that Filipino athletes gearing up for the 2016 Olympic Games are educated on the consequences of using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).
“We need to educate our athletes. May mga athletes na umiinom ng mga gamot na hindi dapat inumin na posibleng makaapekto sa kanila, just like what happened to Sharapova. We have to educate them kung ano ang dapat at hindi dapat,” Garcia told The Manila Times.
PSC through its Philippine Center for Sports Medicine will be conducting its own information campaign about doping in sports to Olympic-bound athletes two months before the actual competition.
“We usually have our own doping seminar before we leave for the Olympics. Since maliit lang naman ang delegation natin, we require all athletes na sumailalim sa test. We have qualified doctors who are members of WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency] that could conduct the test,” added Garcia referring to physician Alejandro Pineda, Jr. – a member of WADA.
Sharapova said on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) she failed a dope test at the Australian Open, and isn’t sure what punishment she’ll face for her “huge mistake.”
The former world No.1 from Russia said a change in the WADA’s banned list for 2016 led to an inadvertent violation, for which she will be “provisionally suspended” by the International Tennis Federation.
Sharapova tested positive for Meldonium, a drug she said she had been taking since 2006 but was only added to the banned list this year.
Meanwhile, Philippine Davis Cup Team Captain Roland Kraut hopes that the issues hounding the five-time Grand Slam champion won’t affect her stature as a good ambassador of the sport idolized by many young players.
“I hope her name doesn’t get stained, after all, for more than a decade she was a very competitive player, looked good on the court, and was a good ambassador of the sport. Sayang [What a waste]. I would like her to retire this way,” said Kraut, the current De La Salle University tennis team head coach.
“Well, I’m sure she had no intentions of cheating. According to her, she was taking that tablet for the past 10 years and it was only banned as of January 2016. But she is right, she and her team is responsible in making sure that what they are taking are not banned substances,” he added.
Pinoy fans share different views
“I still love you Maria no matter what. I’m your biggest fan. I love you and I’m looking forward to see you again when you come back here in Manila,” Ronil Pongpong, a government employee and a solid Sharapova fan said.
Sharapova won the hearts of thousands of Filipinos when she played for the Manila Mavericks in the International Premier Tennis League in 2014. “Imagine the support team Sharapova has. The ‘nobody told me it was a banned substance’ line is either a lie or she’s woefully advised,” Thom James said on his Twitter account.
“I don’t think it’s normal for elite athletes to be on lifelong prescription drugs. It may be regular but it’s not normal,” Jodie Swallow said for her part.