EJ Obiena

‘I was tricked’: Obiena coach says no time for ‘witch hunt’

Beatrice Go
‘I was tricked’: Obiena coach says no time for ‘witch hunt’

FATHER FIGURE. Vitaly Petrov (right) helps EJ Obiena become the No. 6 pole vaulter in the world.

EJ Obiena's Instagram

Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov withdraws any previous statements attributed to him

MANILA, Philippines – Renowned pole vault coach Vitaly Petrov said he was “tricked” by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) and formally withdrew his previous correspondence about EJ Obiena’s payments.

Petrov released a statement on Wednesday, December 1, that he was told to answer a questionnaire that would “facilitate smoother payments,” but he claimed that his responses were used for the current case against Obiena instead.

“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. I answered it that way because I honestly thought it would help unburden EJ of this unnecessary role of managing my payments and that he could fully focus on training,” wrote Petrov.

“I never could have imagined it would be used in the way it is used now as a weapon to destroy a promising career.”

In Wednesday’s signed statement, Petrov formally announced that he withdraws any past statements attributed to him.

“This is the only document that may be attributed to myself. And finally, this closes the matter for me. I will be making no further statements. I have athletes who need me. I do not have more time to waste on this proverbial ‘Witch hunt’,” said Petrov.

Petrov also accused PATAFA president Philip Ella Juico of initiating the discussions about his payments.

“To be clear, I NEVER initiated any such discussions or documents. It was initiated wholly by Philip Ella Juico.”

The Ukrainian coach reiterated that Obiena fully paid him 85,000 Euros (P4.5 million), but admitted that some of the payments were late.

“I know EJ is trustworthy, and I know he is good [with] the money, and I know he is overburdened by administration to start with. 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,” added Petrov.

On November 21, PATAFA asked the pole vaulter to return funds intended for Petrov, prompting Obiena and the revered coach to appear in a press conference to defend themselves.

PATAFA then shifted allegations to late payments and discrepancies in liquidation, but Obiena continued to take legal action against the national federation as he filed a complaint before the Philippine Olympic Committee Athletes Commission and Safe Sports Technical Working Group, accusing the organization of bordering on “alleged harassment” and “bullying,” among others.

Obiena, the Asian record holder, currently ranks No. 6 in the world. He finished 11th overall in the Tokyo Olympics, where he’s the only Asian to reach the final round. – Rappler.com

Beatrice Go

More commonly known as Bee, Beatrice Go is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Philippine sports governance, national teams, football, and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.