PBA: 6 CAGERS FAIL DRUG TESTManila, May 29, 2003 -- Six players, including a second-time offender and two highly-paid superstars, were found to have failed the mandatory drug test conducted by the PBA recently and will be suspended indefinitely, commissioner Noli Eala announced yesterday. San Miguel center Dorian Peņa, who had been slapped a two-game suspension for marijuana use in the pre-season, Red Bull star Davonn Harp, Barangay Ginebra forward Jun Limpot, Talk N Text backups Noli Locsin and Angelo David and FedEx slotman Ryan Bernardo all failed the test, according to Eala. Three team utility men also failed the drug test. "It is with a tinge of regret that I am indefinitely suspending the players, including someone (Peņa) who has already been sanctioned before, after they failed the mandatory drug test," said Eala, who made the announcement after a meeting with officials of the Department of Health and the Philippine National Police. The league refused to name the substance found on the urine samples taken on the six players but sources said it wasn't just marijuana, giving rise to speculations that use of higher-grade illegal substance, like shabu, is starting to be rampant in the league. Peņa had been ordered to undergo a one-year rehabilitation program. His case will only be reviewed by the league after he completes his rehab. The mandatory testing on teams was held after Norman Gonzales of Talk N Text tested positive for drug use. Before Gonzales, Red Bull's Jimwell Torion, Ginebra's Alex Crisano, along with Peņa and Talk N Text center Asi Taulava also tested positive. The biggest surprise in the catch is Ginebra star Limpot who said he had never seen shabu before. "Sa buong buhay ko, di pa ako nakakita o gumamit ng shabu. Naguguluhan ako. Di ko alam kung pa'no nangyari 'yun," he said in a phone interview yesterday. "I'm actually surprised. I know he's under medication so we don't know anything yet," said Ginebra coach Allan Caidic. The recent development messed up the league's preparations for the coming All-Star game on Sunday. League coaches had already voted in their seven reserves, with Limpot and Harp being named as reserves of the Commissioners team. Their slots will be filled up by Red Bull's Mick Pennisi and Enrico Villanueva. It is doubtful, however, if the All-Star game could make the public forget the lingering, bad after-taste of the latest findings. "I know people will perceive it as something very alarming. But we do not look at it as a weakness but as a point where we start to be very, very vigilant," said Eala.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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