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Palace hopes issue involving PATAFA, Olympian EJ Obiena will be resolved

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Wednesday expressed hope that the issues involving Olympian EJ Obiena, who has been accused by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) of fund misuse, would be resolved.

"We continue to support all of our athletes, including our star pole vaulter EJ Obiena and we hope that whatever disagreements that he may have... between EJ and the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association, hopefully they will all be threshed out for the allegations of fund misuse and other such allegations," acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles said at a press briefing.

"Documents, we have been told, have already been sent to the Philippine Sports Commission and the Commission on Audit, so let us await further development in that regard or if they will issue a statement on that matter," he added.

The PATAFA has recommended the removal of Obiena from the national team and the filing of criminal charges against him for allegedly misappropriating about 6,000 euros that was released to him to pay his coach Vitaly Petrov. The group also recommended the filing of a complaint against Petrov before World Athletics for supposedly violating the Integrity Code of Conduct and his termination as a PATAFA coach. It also recommended that Obiena's consultant James Lafferty be declared persona non-grata.

Obiena has said that the PATAFA proceeding "had the look and feel of a witch hunt" and has expressed confidence that his legal team would be able to clear his name.

The 26-year-old pole vaulter and Asian record holder vowed to focus on his training even as he admitted that the controversy has taken valuable time, effort and energy from his preparation for his future competitions.

"I will clear my name in court and I will clear my name in competition. My pole will be my platform. My every jump is my defiance to everything that is wrong in the sport. And an affirmation that the Filipino is tough, enduring, loyal and will stand up for what is right and true," Obiena said in a social media post. 

EJ OBIENA
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