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PATAFA ousts EJ Obiena from pool

The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association will no longer treat EJ Obiena as their athlete.

In a statement by PATAFA chairman Rufus Rodriguez and president Philip Juico, the federation has announced that they will move on from the row it has had with Obiena, his coach Vitaly Petrov, ex-booster Jim Lafferty, and their auditor Jeanette Obiena. PATAFA have already concluded their internal investigation, while the Commission on Audit is currently holding a special audit.

“The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association moves on.

“The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) has reaffirmed its commitment to mediation, a commitment we share; the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) has again railroaded the persona non grata proceedings against our PATAFA president, to whom the entire Board, reiterated its support; the Commission on Audit (COA) is conducting a special audit of transactions involving EJ Obiena, and the PATAFA Committee has completed its investigations and submitted its recommendations to the PATAFA Board and has given its findings to PSC in compliance with the latter’s request. All these are events of the past and belong to history,” read PATAFA’s statement.

With this, PATAFA will no longer “support” their star pole vaulter. They claim that Obiena already found people who will finance his trainings abroad and cost of living.

“With respect to Mr. Ernest John Obiena, he has chosen to remove himself from the jurisdiction of PATAFA,” continued the statement.

“He decided to align, work with and avail himself of total support purportedly guaranteed by his patrons, agents, and political backers. They are expected to support his training, maintenance, medical needs, and compliance with requirements of tournament organizers.”

Early this week, the 26-year-old native of Tondo also disclosed that he will no longer participate in the PSC’s mediation efforts due to “bad faith” by PATAFA. The country’s track and field agency said that they will “respect his decision.”

Despite moving on, PATAFA stressed that it will not stop pursuing legal action against the Olympian.

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“Even as PATAFA considers this Obiena case closed, with the COA doing a special audit, the PATAFA is constrained by law and policies to pursue legal options as identified by the committee which investigated the allegations against him. This responsibility falls on our shoulders,” it stressed.

“We wish Mr. Obiena Godspeed and success in his endeavors.”

While doing so, PATAFA will also focus all its resources on helping its remaining pool prepare for the upcoming Southeast Asian Games and the Asian Games later this year.

“PATAFA, therefore, chooses to move on. There’s so much work to be done and attention that needs to be given to our more than 50 athletes, coaches, and other stakeholders. All of them need to be given the same proportionate opportunities provided to an exclusive circle.”

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