Failed dope test gives hope to PH relay team
MANILA, Philippines—One more gold might yet be counted for the Philippines in the 2011 Southeast Asian Games.
This possibility cropped up after two medal-winning athletes from Malaysia failed their doping tests, one of them a member of the 4X400-meter relay team that beat the Filipino squad for the gold medal, according to a wire report quoting an article from the newspaper The New Straits Times.
The report didn’t name who among the four runners tested positive in his “A” samples. He could be disqualified if his “B” samples to be tested next week confirm the result, the report added.
The other Malaysian athlete is a weightlifter who won a bronze in his event.
“You know what, I never put Malaysia in the equation in the relays because they have no strong individual runners,” said Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association president Go Teng Kok. “So when they won gold, I immediately had doubts.”
The Philippines fielded 32-year-old Julius Nierras, 27-year-old Junrey Bano, 25-year-old Edgardo Alejan and 21-year-old Richard Bagsit in the 4X400m. Bagsit also won a silver in the 400 meters.
The athletics chief predicted a gold in the relay and also in women’s long jump and 3,000m steeplechase which Marestella Torres and Rene Herrera eventually ruled.
“This shows that we knew our athletes and our opponents. Athletics is a measurable sport so you can more or less gauge where you stand among the competitors,” added Go, whose squad also delivered nine silver and five bronze medals.
If the Malaysian runner is disqualified, the Philippines would finish with a 3-8-5 gold-silver-bronze tally.
The report said Malaysia sports minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek condemned the results and was quoted as saying: “I am shocked to hear that two of our athletes have failed dope tests. I am very sad this has happened and it is something we cannot tolerate. To have to return the gold medals after all the publicity that they received is shameful.”
The Malaysian sports chief also lashed out at their athletics and weightlifting bodies. “This responsibility falls on the national associations and the fact that they are keeping silent shows they have no clue what to do over this matter,” he said.
Malaysia collected 59 golds, 50 silvers and 81 bronzes in finishing fourth overall. The Philippines finished with its worst showing in the Games at sixth place with a 36-56-77 medal output.
Go said he has already talked to Philippine Sports Commission chair Richie Garcia regarding the possible adjustment of the cash incentives for the relay team which stands to receive P100,000 or P50,000 more if the Malaysians are disqualified.