Pole vault

‘Wronged’ EJ Obiena mulls legal action over doping accusations by wife of former Olympic champion

Delfin Dioquino

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‘Wronged’ EJ Obiena mulls legal action over doping accusations by wife of former Olympic champion

FOCUS. The Philippines' EJ Obiena in action during the men's pole vault final in the 2023 World Athletics Championships.

Aleksandra Szmigiel/REUTERS

Asian pole vault king EJ Obiena cries foul after being accused of doping by the wife of 2012 London Olympics champion Renaud Lavillenie

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino pole vault star EJ Obiena and his camp are mulling legal action over doping allegations made by the wife of former Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie of France.

Anais Lavillenie, whose husband won the men’s pole vault gold in the 2012 London Games, said Obiena will suffer the same downfall as Thiago Braz after the Brazilian got provisionally suspended for failing a doping test.

Braz, who beat Renaud for the crown in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, and Obiena are both mentored by Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov.

“Obiena doped and it’ll fall like Braz. Same coach, same plan, same objective,” Anais commented on the Facebook page of Vaulter Magazine, which shared a story by The Manila Times about Obiena believing he can beat world record holder Armand Duplantis of Sweden in the 2024 Paris Games.

Anais, a former pole vaulter, has since deleted her comment.

Fresh from a record-breaking performance in the Asian Games that saw him win one of the Philippines’ four gold medals, Obiena cried foul over Anais’ accusations.

“I want to remain classy and dignified on this subject. All I will say is I am disappointed, angry, and feel wronged by these statements,” Obiena wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday, October 15. “I will let the story evolve while my team explores the many angles, including legal.”

Obiena enjoyed a stellar outdoor season as he won medals in 15 of the 16 events he took part in.

The 27-year-old completed a three-peat in the Southeast Asian Games, retained his title in the Asian Athletics Championships, and bagged a historic silver in the World Athletics Championships.

He joined the exclusive six-meter club as the first and only Asian, qualified for the Paris Olympics in his first attempt, and rose to a career-high second in the world rankings, just behind Duplantis.

Putting the cherry on top to a superb campaign, Obiena captured his first Asian Games gold with a record-setting 5.90m vault in Hangzhou, China, last September 30.

“I guess this is part of the price you pay when you win,” Obiena wrote.

While Obiena continues his rise, the 37-year-old Renaud has been on a decline.

Renaud, who previously held the world record of 6.16m he set in 2014 for six years before Duplantis came along, has yet to hit the Olympic qualifying mark of 5.82m.

Braz has fallen off the top of the world rankings as well as he slipped to No. 25 – a decline compounded by a positive doping test in July. – Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.