Patafa belies EJ Obiena claim of ‘character assasination’
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) on Monday belied pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena’s claim of “character assassination” after the latter was asked to return €85,000 (over P4.8 million) in financial assistance intended for the salary of his Ukrainian coach.
In a press release sent by the Patafa, the national federation for athletics said the investigation conducted by its board on Obiena was purely internal and had been kept away from the prying eyes of the public.
It added that Patafa “acted on a statement signed by Obiena’s coach, Vitaly Petrov, who informed the association that he did not receive payment for his services to Obiena.”
Obiena denied in a press conference on Sunday that he failed to release the salary of Petrov for the services rendered by the legendary pole vault mentor from early 2018 onward.
Threatening to retire, the Tokyo Olympian and Asian record-holder showed a statement signed by Petrov, who explained that the financial obligation has been paid by Obiena in full.
The 26-year-old Obiena likewise said he has already filed a complaint before the Philippine Olympic Committee, International Olympic Committee and World Athletics.
According to the Patafa board, Petrov’s earlier claim that he didn’t receive his salary was backed by an affidavit signed by World Athletics vice president Sergey Bubka, an Olympic gold medalist and six-time world champion in pole vault who is now the president of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine.
The Patafa also took exception to Obiena’s virtual press conference where he pressed for “the full and public withdrawal of the investigation and a full public apology from the authorities involved” instead of facing the investigative body.
A source from the federation said the Patafa board wants to know the schedule of payment since Obiena had claimed in various liquidation reports that he had released the funds to Petrov on time.
The Patafa board said that Obiena has reported to the federation that he had turned over Petrov’s salary from May 2018 to August 2021.
According to reports, Petrov has a monthly salary of 2,000 Euros for handling the training of the Filipino pole vault ace in Formia, Italy.
The source added that Patafa directly made the payments to Obiena, who was tasked to turn it over to Petrov since there was no contract between the Patafa and the foreign coach.
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