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Harsh or not-so-harsh penalty?

SBP is awaiting FIBA’s verdict on Justin Brownlee’s penalty after testing positive for an ingredient or compound in cannabis found in his urine sample from an extraction following Gilas’ game against Jordan in the Asian Games championship game in Hangzhou last Oct. 6. Brownlee had the option to contest the finding and request the anti-doping agency to test his other sample as two samples were taken. But according to Gilas team manager and San Miguel Corp. sports director Alfrancis Chua, it was decided not to test the second sample as an unfavorable finding would likely result in a stiffer penalty.

The two samples were taken one after the other so the probability of different results would be extremely low. Apparently, Brownlee took the cannabis compound for medicinal purposes as he underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove bone spurs in three points of his foot over a month before the Asian Games. If he’s able to provide a doctor’s prescription for cannabis, it would surely lighten his sentence.

In the NBA, cannabis is no longer a banned substance. But in the PBA and Asian Games, alarm bells will ring if cannabis is found in an athlete’s urine. Before the NBA allowed free use of cannabis last July, several players were meted suspensions for testing positive. JR Smith, Monta Ellis and Reggie Bullock were slapped five-game suspensions for their first offense. Repeat violators suffered more serious consequences like OJ Mayo who was canned for two years and never returned to the league. NBA veteran Jordan Bell tested positive for cannabis and was given a three-month suspension by FIBA this year. The suspension ended last Aug. 23. Another athlete who tested positive for the same substance was handed a one-month suspension after providing evidence that a doctor prescribed cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Brownlee could’ve actually been spared the embarrassment of testing positive if he was only told by officials to submit a list of medicine he was taking under doctor’s orders before the start of the Asian Games. This is standard procedure and officials should know it. If Brownlee submitted the doctor’s prescription that stipulated cannabis before the competition, he