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Sports

Word war escalates in PATAFA-Obiena impasse

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
Word war escalates in PATAFA-Obiena impasse
EJ Obiena in a photo from his official Instagram account on July 18, 2021.
Instagram / ernestobiena

MANILA, Philippines — Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov wants the EJ Obiena issue put to rest, saying he doesn’t have “more time to waste on this proverbial witch hunt.”

But before doing so, Petrov issued his “final statement” on the controversy, where he maintained he was fully paid for his services and even claimed athletics chief Philip Ella Juico “tricked” him into signing an earlier statement alleging the non-payment of coaching fees.

Juico, however, flatly denied “pressuring” Petrov.

“I answered and later signed a questionnaire because I was made to understand through their circuitous questioning and reasoning that this would facilitate smoother payments. I was tricked,” Petrov said.

“I answered it that 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.”

Juico insisted there was no way he could have “pressured, coerced, misled or tricked” Petrov, noting the veteran mentor is in faraway Italy with only Obiena having access to him.

“Petrov was asked and he answered freely and even volunteered information. He was fully aware. He knows the truth,” Juico said.

Petrov said he “never proactively complained to anyone on EJ and payments, especially never to PATAFA or any other Philippine sports official.”

“What happened is, I have been directly approached by Philip Ella Juico and heavily questioned, alongside my former athlete Sergey Bubka, in a manner which confused me and I felt pressured to answer in a way that they wanted me to answer,” he said.

Acting on Petrov’s initial non-payment claim, the PATAFA launched a probe on Obiena for alleged misuse of funding amounting close to P5 million.

“Petrov’s decision now to come to the aid of Obiena after firmly reporting the non-payment of coaching fees, comes as no surprise as they are both together in Formia, Italy and the prospect of losing Euros 5,000 a month (which Petrov said in his statement was really only Euros 3,000, as he agreed with Obiena ) in PATAFA-approved fees and his 10 percent share in Obiena’s earnings which are not reported to PATAFA or PSC,” Juico said.

Juico also questioned the motive – and the group – behind Petrov’s tirade against him.

“I wonder, however, if a sports group is pressuring him to issue a statement to make me look bad prior to a code of conduct committee hearing,” said Juico, referring to the Philippine Olympic Committee’s probe against PATAFA. “It seems someone from that sports group was distributing Petrov’s ‘statement’ to media outlets.”

EJ OBIENA
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