MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) has already finalized the line-up of athletes who will represent the Philippines in the upcoming Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in Jakarta this November.
In the dragon boat event, the paddlers from the Philippine Canoe-Kayak Federation (PCKF) will be the ones to play for flag and country, instead of the paddlers from the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation (PDBF).
The PDBF paddlers are coming off a triumphant campaign in the International Dragon Boat Federation World Championships, where they won 5 gold medals and 2 silvers.
But they will not be allowed to represent the country in the SEA Games as they are not recognized by the POC as the official national sports association (NSA) for dragon boat.
They are also not endorsed by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
But POC Board Director Jeff Tamayo says that the PDBF team may be able to join the SEA Games.
This is if the PDBF paddlers pass the qualifications of the canoe-kayak federation.
But the families and supporters of the PDBF team worry that the Filipino paddlers may become victims of politicking in the sport.
This is because the chef de mission of the athletes delegation for the SEA Games is the president of the canoe-kayak federation.
Tamayo, however, assures PDBF supporters that this will not be the case.
Accusations of steroid use
But the POC is also saying that the PDBF athletes will have a hard time making it to the PCKF team, because the PDBF paddlers are already old.
The POC adds that the PDBF paddlers should already retire to give way to younger athletes.
“They have the body, they have everything, but as we all know, ampaw na lang ‘yun,” Tamayo said.
Moreover, the POC has also released a report about the alleged use of steroids by members of the PDBF.
The POC also alleges that the PDBF team cheated the time trial results for the Asian Games.
Outcry from supporters
The POC’s allegations have angered the PDBF team’s supporters.
“Pulitika talaga ang puno’t dulo nito,” said Bandera sports columnist Eric Dimzon. “May mga taong gustong mapanatili sa puwesto kaya gusto nilang pilayan ang grupo.”
The PDBF’s supporters are questioning the POC’s decision not to recognize the PDBF as the country’s national sports association for the dragon boat event.
This is because in the letter from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), it only recommended the POC to place the dragon boat event under the canoe-kayak federation.
It was not, therefore, a direct order from the IOC.
But the POC is saying that they needed to follow the recommendation from the IOC. Otherwise, they may be suspended, which will affect all other sports in the country. -- Report from Gretchen Malalad, ABS-CBN News