FOR now, the Philippines was given a reprieve as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) passed the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport for it to decide on the country’s fate on whether or not it should be punished for alleged non-compliance to the world doping body’s code.

“On 13 February, WADA received formal notification from the NADO (national anti-doping agency) of the Philippines that it disputes the allegations of non-compliance against it,” said WADA in a statement posted on its website.

“WADA will now refer the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) for its consideration. As such, the consequences will not apply until CAS makes its ruling,” it added.

The country’s NADO is the Philippine National Anti-Doping Agency (PHI-NADO), which is under the Philippine Sports Commission’s (PSC) auspices and chaired by Dr. Alejandro Pineda, Jr. PSC Chair Richard Bachmann did not comment on the matter at press time.

Pineda too.

But they, as well as the country, could collectively breathe a sigh of relief as it could now plead its case to the more powerful CAS while temporarily avoiding the possibility of the punishment recently received by Angola, whose flag will no longer be flown in WADA-sanctioned events including the Olympics.

Unlike the Philippines, Angola decided not to contest WADA’s allegation that led to it being slapped with a stiff sanction.

Angola’s specific offense was its “failure to implement the 2021 version of the WADA Code” while the Philippines was being accused of not resolving “a number of critical non-conformities, as identified from WADA’s Code Compliance Questionnaire exercise.”

Because of it, both countries were inserted into WADA’s “watchlist” in September last year and were given until January this year to execute corrective action plans.

While the country had taken some actions to rectify the impasse, WADA said the issue remained unsolved and gave the Philippines 21 days to either dispute or accept the allegation of non-compliance.

The country ended up doing the former, leaving its fate now at the hands of the CAS, which would influence how WADA would make the final decision. — Joey Villar