Marella Salamat made decision not to join Asian Games

Filipino cyclist Marella Salamat clarified that it was her decision not to participate in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.

Reports broke out early Sunday that the University of the East (UE) prevented the 2015 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist from competing in the Asiad.

PhilCycling president Bambol Tolentino told the media "Salamat was not permitted by the dean of dentistry of UE to represent flag and country."

"A strong medalist potential. No Filipino heart. Is this what they teach in UE?" said Tolentino.

Salamat, however, clarified that UE said it was OK for her to join the Asian Games but the school stressed she would have to repeat the whole dentistry course for another six years if she went back. Knowing that she only had two years left before graduating, Salamat decided to withdraw from the Asian Games for "what I've been working for, also for my future."

"I went back to my school to finish my dentistry course under UE last October, and upon entering, the dean already rejected my request to get back. So she sent me to the Chancellor, and the Chancellor was the one who allowed me to continue my schooling under UE and to continue where I left off from my last [leave of absence], which was in 2016. Upon enrolling again, the dean and I had an agreement that I won't be requesting for any LOA again, as I had run out of leave of absences" she explained to ESPN5.

"When I sent the Philippine Sports Commission's letter to UE, they said it was OK for me to leave but if I do decide again to come back to UE Dentistry, I'd go back to my first year," she continued. "Given these options, I decided to have my name removed from the list of delegates from the Asian Games."

The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) appealed to the UE three times to allow Salamat to represent the country in the Asiad in Indonesia but all attempts were denied.

Salamat won a gold medal in the 2015 SEA Games in the cycling women's individual time trial event and bagged bronze in the 2016 World University Cycling Championship in the women's road race event.

ESPN5's Lyn Olavario contributed to this report.