THE Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is hoping against hope that Kiefer Ravena can still play in the PBA despite an 18-month ban imposed by Fiba after testing positive for performance-enhancing substances banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
SBP president Al Panlilio said a letter has been sent to Fiba seeking clarification as to whether Ravena can still play in the PBA during the 18-month suspension, but admitted Fiba rules are very clear that the suspension covers “all leagues and activities.”
That, he admitted, was the reason the SBP pulled the NLEX rookie out of the PBA All-Star Game in Iloilo on Sunday as a precaution against a possible violation of the suspension.
“Honestly, the rules are very clear that (the ban covers) all leagues and activities,” Panlilio said. “Even the (PBA) All-Stars, kaya we had to pull out Kiefer.
"But we are seeking clarification from Fiba. In fact, we just released the letter half an hour ago (before Monday’s press conference). So Geneva (Fiba headquarters) should receive it Monday, same day.”
A check with the Fiba rules showed any doping punishment imposed by the world basketball body covers not only Fiba-sanctioned leagues but all activities beyond its scope.
The PBA, where Ravena is in the middle of his rookie season with NLEX, is sanctioned by Fiba as a member of the SBP, where it holds two seats in the board.
Fiba rules are also explicit when it comes to banned players who decides to play in non-sanctioned leagues, saying "such period shall not be credited against the period of suspension."
Still, Panlilio is hoping for a change of heart from Fiba since basketball is Ravena’s means of livelihood.
The SBP chief also cited a number of mitigating factors, including Ravena's honesty and cooperation during the investigation as well as the fact that he is a first-time offender.
“Our prayer and clarification, since this is Kiefer’s livelihood, if he can be allowed to earn a living. He has sufferd enough, he has been very honest in the process. He has been very candid. His behavior has been exemplary. He has shown integrity. Talagang honest mistake. It’s something that, again like Kiefer said, in hindsight, lacking knowledge and checking what the supplements are, what this pre-workout drinks are."
So far, Ravena has no plans on what to do in his 18-month hiatus as he awaits clarification from Fiba, except to help in the information drive on banned substances.
“With the process for seeking clarification of hoping to lessen or even just allowed me to play in the PBA, I guess you guys (media) will also be a big part of it… We are doing a lot of things. Hopefully, we can lighten up the situation that we have right now,” said Ravena.