A shocking and unfortunate development has unfolded just days after Gilas Pilipinas ended the country’s 61-year title drought in Asian Games basketball.
The International Testing Agency (ITA) announced late Thursday, October 12 that Justin Brownlee failed a “in-competition anti-doping” test. Brownlee, the national team’s naturalized player, was the hero of the Philippines’ first Asian Games gold medal since 1962.
The resident Brgy. Ginebra reinforcement in the PBA, who topped the Gilas scoring parade with an average of 23.4 points, tested positive for Carboxy-THC, a prohibited substance by the World Anti-Doping Agency that is linked to cannabis use.
“The International Testing Agency (ITA), mandated by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) to independently handle areas of the anti-doping program at the Asian Games Hangzhou 2022, including results management, reports that a sample collected from basketball player Justin Brownlee from the Philippines has returned an Adverse Analytical Finding¹ for Carboxy-THC, a specified Prohibited Substance, according to the Prohibited List of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA),” the ITA said on its website.
“The sample was collected by the ITA at the Asian Games Hangzhou 2022 during an in-competition anti-doping control performed on 7 October 2023. The Sample Collection Authority was the China Anti-Doping Agency. The athlete has been informed of the case. He has the right to request the analysis of the B-samples.”
Anti-doping rule violation: The ITA reports that a sample collected from basketball player Justin Brownlee (Philippines) during the@19thAGofficial has returned an Adverse Analytical Finding for a specified prohibited substance.
— International Testing Agency (@IntTestAgency) October 12, 2023
The case of Brownlee will be elevated to the Anti-Doping Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport for adjudication under the Anti-Doping Rules of the Olympic Council of Asia.
According to the ITA, the China Anti-Doping Agency served as the “sample collection authority.”
Brownlee played the game of his life as the Filipinos upset host and defending champion China in the semifinals to reach the gold-medal game for the first time since 1990. Brownlee’s sterling performance came as a follow-up to a 36-point eruption in the quarterfinal victory over Iran.
The 3-time PBA Best Import awardee scored 17 of his 33 points in the payoff period of their come-from-behind 77-76 victory over a startled Chinese team whose title defense was crushed despite leading by as much as 20 points.
It was only the third time in the history of the Asian Games that China failed to reach the men’s basketball final, prompting Chinese supporters to ridicule their own team after it also lost to the Philippines in the FIBA World Cup.
Brownlee then scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Philippines defeated Jordan 70-60 in the championship game on October 6, a day before the samples were collected.
China claimed the bronze medal after defeating Chinese-Taipei, 101-73.
Sami Bzai, a member of Jordan’s basketball team, also tested positive for dehydrochloromethyl-testosterone metabolite, a non-specified banned substance.
Another Filipino athlete in the continental meet, cyclist Ariana Evangelista, was slapped with a “provisional suspension with immediate effect” after testing positive for the performance-enhancing drug erythropoietin.