EJ Obiena seeks legal assistance, but making 'peace' possible

Published November 23, 2021, 3:39 PM

by Kristel Satumbaga-Villar

Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov, left, and EJ Obiena

EJ Obiena revealed Tuesday he will seek legal help in proving his innocence involving the fund misuse allegations hurled against him by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa).

“I will clear my name. I will raise all legal challenges and I want this to be put into a court of law where all evidence must be exposed,” Obiena said in a two-page statement posted on his social media accounts.

“I will complete the PWC audit and I will finalize my legal recourse avenues.”

The Olympian pole vaulter and world No. 5 said he is “personally shocked at the recent statement and shifting allegations of Patafa” from accusing him of embezzlement to timing of payments.

Though he admitted to having paid Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov late in the past, Obiena said it’s “a long way from embezzlement and theft that they accused me of.”

“I’m not a lawyer, but as far as I know, paying late isn’t a crime,” Obiena said.

Obiena reiterated he has repeatedly asked Patafa to pay his coaches directly and to stop requiring him to disperse all funds so that he could concentrate solely on his training and competitions abroad, but he has been turned down.

He has been based in Formia, Italy for the past years and has been joining European competitions throughout the season.

“I have admitted I struggle with the huge amount of paperwork I am required to do to be a paymaster to my team. I am alone in Italy, I train nine hours daily and I have no help,” Obiena said.

“When I am changing countries every 36 hours, I am sorry I can’t stop everything and reconcile all my finances… I am not an accountant. This is not a crime.”

Obiena also said Petrov denies having a signed written complaint submitted to Patafa and questioned the signed affidavit of Ukrainian Olympic Committee President Sergey Bubka.

“Given the allegations, there are only three parties that I believe matter: myself, Petrov and Patafa,” he said.

Obiena said he is willing “to make peace” in this case, but demanded his name be cleared of these allegations.