After weeks of investigation, the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) is set to expel pole vault star EJ Obiena from the national team.
PATAFA’s investigative committee has recommended dropping the Tokyo Olympian “effective immediately” over falsified liquidation documents and late payments to his coach.
“This is one of the six recommendations from the investigative committee, which also includes filing a criminal complaint of estafa over 6,000 euros (P360,000), the amount allotted for the coaching fees of Vitaly Petrov from May 2018 to August 2018,” Rappler reported.
“The report brought so much sadness and feelings of betrayal but we had to face the challenge because as professionals we should account for all the funds, government and private, given to us. We have a fiduciary responsibility over Patafa showing of all moral, ethical considerations which our present times consider less important than winning or making money,” said PATAFA president Philip Ella Juico on Tuesday in a press conference.
“So the board has accepted all the recommendations of the administrative committee that includes removing the 26-year-old young man, who knew the consequences of what he was doing as he repeatedly produced those spurious documents,” he added.
The 26-year-old athlete, ranking sixth in the world, is the Asian pole vault record holder at 5.93m. He was also the only Asian to reach the final round in the Tokyo Olympics, finishing at 11th place.
In November 2021, Obiena threatened to consider “immediate” retirement after the PATAFA publicly escalated an accounting dispute against him involving late payments for his coach.
Below is Obiena’s statement regarding the allegations.
Despite Petrov’s denial of the accusation and support from some senators to Obiena’s defense, calling the unproven accusations “harassment,” PATAFA’s investigation still recommends the athlete’s expulsion.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) declared Juico “persona non grata” on December 28 and called for the reelection of a new PATAFA president. – WhatALife.ph
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