EJ Obiena’s coach rebuffs Patafa ‘witch hunt,’ says he never complained about pay
MANILA, Philippines—EJ Obienia’s legendary pole vault coach Vitaly Petrov not only clarified that he was paid his dues but also cleared any misunderstanding that he it was him who approached the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association regarding his stipend.
Petrov delivered a strong rebuke of the allegations against Obiena, saying he never approached Patafa regarding his pay nor did he complain about his athlete regarding the issue of money.
The Ukrainian coach added that Patafa president Philip Ella Juico “directly approached and heavily questioned him” along with former pole vaulter Sergey Bubka that pressured him into giving answers the sporting official would like to hear.
“I have never proactively complained to anyone on EJ and payments, specifically never to Patafa or any other Philippine sports official,” wrote Petrov. “What happened is, I have been directly approached by Philip Ella Juico and heavily questioned, alongside my former athlete Sergey Bubka, in a manner which confused me and I felt pressured to answer in a way that they wanted me to answer.”
“I now understand this was a focused mission to try and find fault with EJ. I answered and later signed a questionnaire because I was made to understand through their circuitous questioning and reasoning that this would facilitate smoother payments. I was tricked.”
Petrov added that he thought the questionnaire was going to be used to help creating smoother payment process but was instead, as he wrote, used “as a weapon to destroy a promising career.”
“I never initiated such discourse or documents, it was initiated wholly by Philip Ella Juico.”
The Patafa, back in November, ordered Obiena to return €85,000 (roughly P4.8 million) for alleged falsification of documents and failing to pay Petrov.
Obiena has since hit back from the accusations and even hired the services of accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, regarded as one of the best companies in the world, to audit the payments.
Petrov also stressed that Obiena did pay him, even exceeding the €85,000 that he was owed, and said it was because of Patafa’s inefficiency that his stipend was sometimes late.
— INQUIRER Sports (@INQUIRERSports) December 1, 2021
“There is no doubt that sometimes EJ has paid me late, and sometimes in irregular tranches and he explained to me that this is caused primarily by Patafa sending his allowance and my payments months-late… I know that the money is late because of Patafa’s inefficiency. As said, I coach because I love coaching. I don’t focus on these matters.”
“First, I have been fully paid by EJ Obiena. Secondly, I have no issues with EJ Obiena. Thirdly, I never reached out to Patafa and I never initiated any complaint against EJ Obiena. Fourth, I was misled by the proactive questioning of Philip Ella Juico and I mistakenly answered his questionnaire according to the way he wanted me to which is to make EJ Obiena look like a criminal,” wrote Petrov.
“I have athletes who need me. I do not have more time to waste on this proverbial witch hunt.”
Both Obiena and Patafa have been ordered by the Philippine Sports Commission not to issue any more statements regarding the controversy. Philippine Olympic Committee’s ethics committee is set to begin its probe next week on a complaint filed by the star pole vaulter against the federation.
Patafa tells EJ Obiena: Prove that you paid coach Petrov on time
Get the hottest sports news straight into your inbox
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.