MANILA, Philippines – NLEX guard Kiefer Ravena made it very clear on Monday that he does not use illegal drugs, in the wake of his 18-month suspension by FIBA following a failed drug test.
Ravena tested positive for three substances that are banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) after Gilas Pilipinas' game against Japan last February 25 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The banned substances were: Higenamine, 1,3-Dimethylbutylamine, and 4-Methylhexan-2-amine.
These substances, it was repeatedly said Monday, are very different from illegal drugs such as cocaine or shabu.
"Illegal drugs are illegal talaga," said Sonny Barrios, the executive director of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) during Monday's press conference. "You cannot buy them over the counter."
"'Yung prohibited substances, many of them – including what Kiefer took – are readily available to the general public. They're not illegal, per se, but they are prohibited by WADA. You will not go to jail by consuming supplements like these prohibited substances," he explained.
Indeed, Ravena's failed drug test stemmed from his ingestion of a pre-workout drink called "DUST," as he was unaware it contained not one, not two, but three banned substances.
This is why Ravena showed no hesitation in going through the random drug testing after their game against Japan.
"I was very confident," said Ravena. "Of course, kapag narinig naman kasi natin 'yung drug test, alam naman natin kung ano hinahanap niyan eh."
"And by God, kung may maniwala man dito na nagda-drugs ako or what, kung ano mang bagay 'yun – marijuana, shabu, or cocaine or whatever… I'm not that type of person," he declared emphatically.
"I just nonchalantly took the test without even hesitating. I wanted to go home after the game. I was tired. I just went and finished the whole drug test not knowing that this will be the outcome," he added.
Ravena was obviously shocked by the results of the test, telling reporters that he had to read the letter from FIBA three, four times before it sunk in. He has accepted his sanction, however, only seeking to clarify whether the suspension extends to his PBA team.
"This is Kiefer's livelihood," said SBP president Al Panlilio. "I think he's suffered enough. He's been very honest in the process, he's been very candid, and his behavior is exemplary. Talagang honest mistake. He bought it over the counter."
Ravena's error, as the player himself admitted, was that he did not take the time to research the active ingredients in the product that he was using. However, he once again noted that none of those substances appeared immediately suspicious to him.
"I guess what I'm really particular is saying that the prohibited substances that were found in the drink, it's not your common drugs. Ayoko isipin ng tao na nagsha-shabu ako or nagma-marijuana, nagco-cocaine. That's way out of hand," he said.
"So just to make it clear, there's a difference with illegal drugs and prohibited substances. Especially in our country today where it's a very sensitive issue and I'm part of it," he added.
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