POC orders probe on Obiena case

Published November 23, 2021, 2:07 PM

by Kristel Satumbaga-Villar

Bambol Tolentino

The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) has ordered its Ethics Committee to investigate the issue concerning EJ Obiena and his association.

POC President Bambol Tolentino said they regret the situation that Obiena is in after the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) accused the Tokyo Olympian for allegedly falsifying his liquidation documents.

“We in the POC will be steadfast and for the sake of Olympism and impartiality, will go into details and investigate the matter,” Tolentino said in a statement.

“We are in deepest regret to realize that one of our Olympians, multi-medalist and great inspiration Ernest John Obiena of athletics, to be involved in this squabble with his home federation,” Tolentino said in a statement.

Tolentino added the situation has put “a bountiful career in peril” after Obiena said he is willing to retire immediately if Patafa does not publicly apologize and retract the investigation on him.

The 26-year-old Tondo native currently holds the Asian record in the sport and has competed in the Tokyo Olympics with a current world ranking of No. 5.

“We could have easily propagated this achievement to the youth by proper guidance and genuine attitude,” Tolentino said.

“I am very disappointed. They could have handled the situation internally absent of any misfires from both parties.”

Obiena appeared with Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov in an online press conference Sunday, denying accusations that he had falsified his liquidation documents concerning Petrov’s coaching fees amounting to 85,000 euros (around P4.8 million).

Patafa, however, rejected Obiena’s claim of “character assassination” and stressed that it only acted on a testimony signed by Petrov, who informed the association that he did not receive payments for his services to Obiena.

A signed affidavit of pole vault legend Sergey Bubka, president of the Ukraine Olympic Committee and senior vice president of world athletics, backed Petrov’s earlier claim.