Pinoy Olympian EJ Obiena has demanded a public apology and full retraction of all allegations against him regarding the misuse of government funds for his Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov.
In an online press conference Sunday night, Nov. 21, the pole vaulter said the incident has damaged his reputation and affected his training for future high-level tournaments.
“The only thing I own in this life is my reputation. If this does not happen, I will consider other options being an immediate retirement from the sport that I love in the Philippines and probably returning to school," he told reporters.
The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) accused Obiena of misuse of funds intended for Petrov, who has been his coach in Formia, Italy for the last seven years.
The association also ordered the athlete to return 85,000 euros (around P4.8 million) equivalent to Petrov’s coaching fees that were allegedly misused.
Because of the allegations, Obiena’s training fund was also cut.
“Nobody asked me any questions. Nobody asked for supporting documentation. They just level the charges against me. My own federation comes out at me with pure aggression, no benefit of any doubt, and with intention to destroy my reputation," he said.
Meanwhile, Petrov, who also joined Obiena in the said press conference, said he was fully paid for his services.
“I have been paid the full sum by EJ, both directly and indirectly. I have no problem with EJ,” he said.
Obiena also tapped third independent party to liquidate the fund.
“I’m a pole vaulter, not an accountant. I have not always handled the paperwork well and I’m sorry for this, but to take this fact and suddenly construe false accusations of theft and embezzlement is beyond me,” he said.
Aside from public apology, Obiena said he's also filing formal complaints before the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Athletics.IMT Sports