The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) may have praised Filipino pole vaulter EJ Obiena for his many victories, but the same federation is now claiming that Obiena embezzled his training funds. The athlete clarified on his social media accounts that the accusations are false.
In a report by Inquirer, PATAFA addressed a letter to Obiena stating that he has “falsified the liquidations submitted” to the association and failed to pay his coach, Vitaly Petrov, the total amount of €85,000 (approximately P4,848,093). Petrov began training the 26-year-old in 2016.
The 26-year-old addressed PATAFA’s allegation and posted a statement online last Sunday. He said, ‘All I can say, with documented evidence, is these rumours are 100% false and represent nothing more than character assassination.’
‘I have prided myself in embracing the values of discipline, competitiveness, honour, transparency, and respect,’ he added. ‘This doesn’t change even in times of crisis.’
Obiena also held a public press conference online with his coach on Sunday evening to “put all questions to rest”.
The young pole vaulter also posted a press statement that said he already filed a complaint against PATAFA to the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), International Olympic Committee (IOC), and World Athletics (IAAF).
Obiena demanded a public apology from the sports association and immediate withdrawal of accusations against him. He also stated that he would consider an “immediate retirement from sport in the Philippines and a return to school” if they don’t comply.
‘If the objective of a sports federation is to destroy and demoralize an athlete, and undermine their performances, then this is a textbook example of how to achieve this,’ he said.
Petrov released his own statement and confirmed that he has been fully paid by Obiena. He also said, ‘I worked with many countries and [sports federations]. I must say I do not understand what this federation is doing, and what good comes out of destroying a fine young man.’
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