EJ Obiena

World Athletics reiterates PATAFA recognition, calls for Obiena rift resolution

JR Isaga
World Athletics reiterates PATAFA recognition, calls for Obiena rift resolution

RECOGNIZED. World Athletics reiterates PATAFA powers and leadership.

Athletics' world governing body calls for an internal resolution of issues with athletes like EJ Obiena

MANILA, Philippines – World Athletics (WA), the sport’s top governing body, has reiterated its recognition of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA), and called for the internal resolution of its rift with pole vault star EJ Obiena.

In a letter sent on Thursday, February 10, the WA, through its president and two-time Olympic gold medalist Sebastian Coe, reemphasized that the PATAFA “is the sole governing body of Athletics in the Philippines.”

As such, the WA is “encouraging” the national sports association (NSA) led by Dr. Philip Ella Juico for “all internal disputes of a Member to be resolved with stated processes and procedures.”

These disputes, of course, include the PATAFA’s issues with Obiena regarding funding, a matter that has reached national headlines with involvement from the Philippine Senate.

The PATAFA, in a press release on Tuesday, February 15, echoed that the NSA, its powers, and Juico’s position as president are all duly recognized by the WA.

Currently, Juico has been officially declared persona non grata by the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), due to Juico’s “harassment” of Obiena with “malicious public accusations” throughout the PATAFA’s investigation.

PATAFA, meanwhile, spiced up its WA release by adding that the governing body’s recognition was done “to remove any doubt as to the legitimacy and the right of its present officers and Board of Trustees to assume their respective roles and responsibilities despite the overreaching acts of certain parties.”

Obiena previously pulled out of mediation attempts by PATAFA and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) due to alleged “bad faith” by the NSA.

However, the Olympian has since softened his stance following advice from five senators present in the Senate Committee on Sports inquiry last February 7. PATAFA emphasized during the inquiry that Obiena’s reinstatement to the national team pool will be one of the topics covered in the mediation.

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PATAFA has been making the news rounds since November after its rift with Obiena became public.

The NSA has since moved to revoke its star athlete’s membership, terminate his coach Vitaly Petrov’s association with PATAFA, and declare his top backer James Lafferty as persona non grata.

Amid overwhelming public outcry and government intervention, PATAFA has since put these motions on hold in favor of the PSC-brokered mediation with Obiena and his camp. – Rappler.com