Pole vault ace Obiena launched wrongdoing by coach Petrov sues Patafa

Ernest John Obiena, in action here last year in Europe, calls the allegations a character assassination. —PHOTO COURTESY OF ERNEST OBIENA FACEBOOK PAGE

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino pole vault star Ernest John Obiena on Sunday dismissed as a personal attack the monetary woes launched against him after the Philippine Athletics Association (Patafa) ordered him to return € 85,000 ( over 4.8 million pesos) in financial assistance.

And he’s gone into attack mode now.

One of the darlings of the small Filipino contingent that competed in the last Olympic Games in Tokyo, Obiena attempted to clear his name at a Zoom press conference by showing a letter signed by Vitaly Petrov that the amount had been received by his coach in payment for services rendered in its construction and participation in the Games.

“All I can say – with documented evidence – that these rumors are 100 percent false and represent nothing more than character assassination,” said Obiena, who was seated next to Petrov during the conference. hurry. “The whole incident damaged my reputation and is now a part of my story forever. “

Obiena has been hurt by what has happened and is threatening to retire “from the sport I love”.

He said that a reconciliation with Patafa and its president, Philip Ella Juico, now belongs to them “all”.

In a letter to Obiena dated November 15, the Patafa stated “based on the written statements of Mr. Sergey Bubka and Mr. Vitaly Petrov, including the documents you submitted to the Patafa, it appears that you have falsified the liquidations submitted to the Patafa and did not pay Mr. Vitaly Petrov’s coaching fees totaling eighty-five thousand euros (€ 85,000). ”

Obiena said he is currently filing complaints with the Philippine Olympic Committee, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and World Athletics.

“We are talking about slander and character defamation. I have retained the services of legal counsel and intend to vigorously pursue this process, ” he said.

Surrender at its peak

La Patafa, the national sports association to which Obiena is affiliated, also claimed that the 26-year-old Olympian from Tokyo “had falsified the liquidations submitted” to the federation, according to documents provided to the investigator.

“The only solution to this now is the full and public withdrawal of the investigation and a full public apology on the part of the authorities involved in this matter. If that doesn’t happen, I will consider my other options such as retiring from the sport I love, ” Obiena said.

“I am proud to embrace the values ​​of discipline, competitiveness, honor, transparency and respect. This does not change even in times of crisis, ” added the current Asian champion and record holder.

Bubka, Olympic gold medalist and six-time world champion in men’s pole vault, is Vice-President of World Athletics, President of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine and a member of the IOC.

“I look forward to full and open accounting. I have nothing to hide, ” said Obiena, who has hired international audit firm Price Waterhouse Coopers to audit the entire portion paid to Obiena and Petrov since the start of 2018. “This will show that every penny has been booked. ”

Obiena said he received two communications from Patafa, one from the federation’s commission of inquiry while the other was a letter accusing him of stealing the money intended for Petrov.

“No one asked for clarity or supporting documentation. They just brought the charges against me, ” said Obiena, who was forced to stop training after Patafa cut off financial aid.

Petrov started his work as coach of Obiena in early 2014, with Patafa agreeing to pay him 2,000 euros each month and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) covering all expenses incurred in the camp. ‘coaching.

Obiena, who placed 11th in the Tokyo Olympics final, said he would provide more evidence to Patafa and PSC that he paid Petrov.

“The only thing we really have in life is our reputation. I will fiercely defend mine against baseless allegations, which expose the political underbelly of some in the sports world, ” Obiena said. INQ

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