THE participation of dragon boat in the 2013 Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar could be in peril following a standoff between some of its national athletes and the Philippine Canoe Kayak Federation (PCKF).
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco said it is forming an arbitration committee to resolve the issue after some members of the national team aired their grievances against PCKF acting president Jonne Go and head coach Len Escollante.
The national dragon boat team is expected to crowd host country Myanmar for the gold medals in December after being recommended for inclusion by the SEA Games Task Force as one of only two teams in the Philippine delegation.
But Cojuangco said as of the moment, its SEA Games participation hangs in the balance as the national athletes have refused to recognize the current PCKF leadership.
“Hindi nila kinikilala ‘yung kanilang officers kaya tigil lahat,” said Cojuangco.
The POC declined to elaborate on the complaint but a source said the national athletes expressed their intention to compete in the upcoming World Championships organized by the International Dragon Boat Federation this month.
The world tournament is the same event where dragon boat paddlers from rival group Philippine Dragon Boat Federation (PDBF) won five gold medals in Tampa in 2011.
Another source said the national paddlers are also questioning Escollante’s competence as dragon boat coach and the legitimacy of Go taking over as acting president following the death of longtime PCKF chief Dr. Sim Chi Tat.
The POC stripped PDBF of recognition after a “directive” from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) saying that all dragon boat affairs will now be under canoe kayak.
The PCKF-backed dragon boat team later won six gold medals in the World Dragon Boat Championship sanctioned by the world governing body of canoe-kayak.
Cojuangco hinted the bickering involves monetary consideration.
“Ang nabanggit ko sa kanila, huwag ninyo problemahin ang pera dahil may sweldo kayo sa military at sa PSC (Philippine Sports Commission),” said Cojuangco.