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Shenanigans in UAAP taekwondo?

There are grave accusations from several quarters that the schedule of the UAAP Taekwondo Championships is being manipulated to favor certain teams and athletes. If the accusations are proved to be true, then the newly formed UAAP Board of Trustees involving school presidents must get to the bottom of these charges and make things right. The calendar of competitions is something that the UAAP Board of Managing Directors reviews and approves so if there are shenanigans involved in manipulating schedules, then the Board of Trustees must step in.

I received a letter the other day from someone who claims to represent schools “desperate for help regarding anomalies in the UAAP.” The appeal is for fair play and was addressed to media “to help us protest the unfair move and abuse of power, making the entire taekwondo collegiate community adjust to everyone’s detriment just for one player.”

Here’s the letter:

“The 2017 UAAP taekwondo championships had long been set on Oct. 19-22 at the Ateneo Blue Eagle Gym. It’s held around the same time and place every year. The other night, we found out that it has been moved to Nov. 9 – to the shock of the university coaches and taekwondo community whose training and weight-loss program are calibrated for an Oct. 19-22 fight schedule. The players are already at their peak after struggling to lose up to10 kilograms for the weigh-in originally scheduled next week.

“The information came from tweets and texts of UST players under national team and UST coach Dindo Simpao as well as Ateneo players. A Philippine Taekwondo Association (PTA) insider told us that this is supported by the tournament director whose niece and Ateneo team member Pauline Lopez will be competing at the Asian Grand Prix which coincides with the original date. Both Dindo and Pauline will be out of the country.”

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Actually, I was informed by a third party that Lopez, a SEA Games bronze medalist in the lightweight 62-kilogram division, will compete at the World Grand Prix in London on Oct. 20-22. Simpao will also travel to London. I was told that the tournament director has called for a rescheduling to allow new equipment to arrive for the UAAP competition but another source said the equipment is already in use in the NCAA. It couldn’t be confirmed if the tournament director is related to Lopez.

According to the letter writer, none of the university coaches was consulted on the rescheduling. “There is no doubt in everyone’s mind that the reason for the new schedule is to accommodate Pauline,” the writer said. “Since Pauline is a member of the Ateneo team, Ateneo will support this by saying the venue is suddenly unavailable.

“For the UP team, the rescheduling would mean three of its top players will not be able to play as two siblings are booked to visit their mom in the US in early November while another player also has a previously scheduled trip. We also know that La Salle coach Kitoy Cruz objects to this unfair move especially with the two-week notice and that the new date is three weeks away. As of today, all universities except Ateneo and UST plan to protest.

“In addition, many of the players with parents coming from the provinces have already scheduled their trip to Manila and accommodations based on the original schedule and some players have planned to go home for the long weekend before Nov. 9.

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“Just this morning, a parent texted both UST and Ateneo coaches (Dindo and Gina Guillermo) to ask about the change. According to Dindo, the notice of changes came from Ateneo while Gina said she got her information from UST. Up to now, the other university coaches have not been formally informed even while UST and Ateneo players continue to tweet about the change in schedule and players from others schools are now in a state of confusion. So far, the coaches have only been called to attend a meeting at the PTA next week.”

This kind of gerrymandering, if in fact proved to be true, isn’t only scandalous but also outrageous. The UAAP is supposed to be a sports league composed of schools that uphold the highest principles of sportsmanship, fair play and respect for the integrity of sports. What message will the UAAP deliver to students and athletes alike if it condones anomalies, manipulative tactics to favor a school or an athlete or both and irregularities? 

 

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