EJ Obiena demands apology from Patafa, threatens to retire amid row | Inquirer Sports
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EJ Obiena demands apology from Patafa, threatens to retire amid row

By: - Reporter / @BLozadaINQ
/ 09:03 PM November 21, 2021
EJ Obiena

The Philippines’ Ernest John Obiena prepares to compete during the men’s pole vault event at The Diamond League AG Memorial Van Damme athletics meeting at The King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels on September 3, 2021. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP)

MANILA, Philippines—EJ Obiena is considering retirement following his row with the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa).

In a virtual press conference on Sunday, Obiena said he’s ready to retire and go back to school after Patafa accused him of falsifying his liquidation reports and failing to pay his coach Vitaly Petrov of the owed monthly stipend.

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The Tokyo Olympian added Patafa tarnished his reputation as an athlete and demanded those accusing him to withdraw the investigation and issue a public apology.

“The only resolution to this now, is a full and public withdrawal of investigation, and a full public apology from the authorities involved in this,” said Obiena Sunday. “If this does not happen, I will consider my other options, being an immediate retirement from the sport that I love in the Philippines, and probably return to school. As much as I believe, there is more for me to achieve, I am also evaluating other options in the field of sports, which I may or may not disclose in a latter date.”

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Obiena, who’s studying Electrical Engineering at University of Santo Tomas, has also filed legal complaints with the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the World Athletics against Patafa.

“I admit some of my liquidation paperwork was submitted late and sometimes in a sloppy fashion. I am a pole vaulter not a corporate accountant. I am alone in trying to handle all this in a foreign country,” said Obiena.

On top of Patafa’s accusations, the national sporting association also ordered Obiena to return €85,000 (P4.8 million) that the athlete received as financial support.

Petrov, who joined Obiena in the press conference, disputed Patafa’s claims, saying that he was already paid for his service.

“I have requested many times for my coaches to be paid directly, I have no desire to play middleman, but this has been refused. I have not always handled the paperwork well, and I’m very sorry for this. But to take this fact and suddenly construe false accusation of theft and embezzlement is beyond honest principle. It’s a disgusting abuse of power, and it is in itself a criminal activity called slander and defamation of character.”

Obiena also sought the services of accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers—considered as one of the Big Four accounting firms along with Deloitte, EY, and KPMG— to audit the payments given to him.

“I will publish this audit in a public domain for all to see; it will show that every single centavo is accounted for all was paid by myself. I welcome a bright light shining in this situation, because I have nothing to hide,” said Obiena.

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