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Patafa tells EJ Obiena: Prove that you paid coach Petrov on time

Patafa tells EJ Obiena: Prove that you paid coach Petrov on time

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 — The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa), which pole vault ace EJ Obiena accused on Sunday of defaming his character, on Monday shot back and will try to find out when the Olympian actually paid his foreign coach his salaries dating back to May 2018.

While belying Obiena’s claim that it was out to assassinate his character, the Patafa now wants the pole vaulter to prove that Ukranian coach Vitaly Petrov was being paid on time during those years as a statement from Patafa said that payments “were made in tranches through banks based in Dubai, Germany and Manila.”

The Patafa is asking Obiena to return €85,000 (over P4.8 million) in financial assistance intended for the salary of his Ukranian coach, whom Sergey Bubka, the pole vaulting legend and president of the Ukraine Olympic Committee, said confided in him complaining of unpaid salaries which resulted in the investigation launched by the track body.

Bubka, in fact, had signed an affidavit dated Sept. 15, which was sent to the Patafa detailing the allegations of Petrov.

Incidentally, Petrov appeared in a Zoom press conference with Obiena on Sunday, clearing his ward of all shortcomings, making Patafa want the Olympian to prove that he had indeed paid the coach on time.

The 26-year-old Obiena likewise said he has already filed a complaint before the Philippine Olympic Committee, International Olympic Committee and World Athletics and has threatened to retire if he doesn’t get “the full and public withdrawal of the investigation and a full public apology from the authorities involved.’’

If this mess isn’t sorted out, it seems that retirement would be one of the options left for Obiena, who wouldn’t be able to compete internationally without the endorsement of his national federation and the financial backing for training that goes with it.

The Patafa also took exception to Obiena’s virtual press conference 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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