'I was misled': Obiena coach cries foul, insists he never reached out to PATAFA

Published December 2, 2021, 11:06 AM

by Reynald I. Magallon

Photo from EJ Obiena Facebook

The Ukrainian coach of EJ Obiena, Vitaliy Petrov, insisted that he never reached out to Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) regarding his salary and claimed that he was misled by the proactive questioning of its president Philip Juico.

In a statement released by Petrov, which he also stressed would be his last regarding the issue, the legendary coach clarified that he has no issue with Obiena and that his salary was paid in full amounting to 85,000 euros by the Tokyo 2020 Olympian.

“First, I have been fully paid by EJ Obiena. Secondly, I have no issue with EJ Obiena. Thirdly, I never have reached out to Patafa, and I never initiated any complaint against EJ Obiena. Fourth, I was misled by the provocative questioning of Philip Ella Juico and I mistakenly answered his questionnaire according to the way that he wanted me to which is to make EJ Obiena look like a criminal,” said Petrov.

In contrary to Patafa’s statement that it only initiated the probe in response to the letters from Petrov and World Athletics senior vice president Sergey Bubka, Petrov stressed that he never complained or reached out to Patafa regarding his compensation. According to Petrov, it was Juico who first reached out.

Petrov then claimed he was being misled by the line of questioning of Juico, which according to the famed coach, was a ‘focused mission to try and find fault with EJ.’

“I have never proactively complained to anyone on EJ and payments, specifically never to Patafa or to any Philippine sports official,” said Petrov.

“I have been directly approached by Philip Ella Juico and heavily questioned, alongside my former athlete Sergei Bubka in a manner which confused me and I felt pressured to answer in a way that they wanted me to answer. I now understand this was a focused mission to try and find fault with EJ,” he furthered.

Petrov also claimed that he was tricked to sign such documents, thinking it would help ease Obiena’s burden of managing his payments and just keep his focus on training.

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

“To be clear I never initiated any such discussion or documents. It was initiated wholly by Philip Ella Juico,” he stressed.

Petrov then reiterated that this would be his final statement regarding the matter while also formally withdrawing any document or statement attributed to him. The veteran coach added that he has no time to deal with the issue which he deemed to be a proverbial ‘Witch Hunt’ on Obiena.

Patafa has yet to release its statement regarding Petrov’s claims although the Philippine Sports Commission had barred the two camps from issuing statements to the public as it hopes to settle the row behind closed doors.