The Philippine Sports Commission asked Olympic pole vaulter EJ Obiena and his mother federation, the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) to both refrain form issuing further statements after days of a heat-filled dispute related to sports funding.
PATAFA accused Obiena, a Tokyo Olympics finalist and Asian record-holder, of falsifying his liquidation documents and ordered the athlete to return almost P4.8 million-worth of salaries to his coach, Vitaly Petrov.
Obiena and Petrov disputed the federation’s claims in a press conference, with Petrov attesting that his ward has paid his fees.
The 26-year-old athlete, currently ranked fifth in the world, also threatened to retire from Philippine athletics after the athlete was cut off from funding.
Obiena is currently training in Formia, Italy. “I am cut from funding and left figuring it out somehow here in Italy. I am destroyed mentally and reputationally. And the attacks keep coming. Clearly, I am not wanted by my federation,” Obiena said in a statement.
The Olympian also questioned the federation on its insistence to burden the athlete with accounting duties.
“Why doesn’t Patafa do its job and pay the coaches directly, allowing me to focus on training rather than accounting?” Obiena said. “They put all the burden on me to perform all administration which I truly believe is not my job.”
In a statement, the PSC said, “While we wish for the matter to be handled with confidentiality, we are bound by duty to mediate and call both parties to the table in the interest of truth and arresting the damage this tussle has done on our country’s image in the international sporting world.”
“We now demand the parties to refrain from issuing statements to the public and on social media. We hope the imposition of this moratorium will allow this proposed dialogue a chance to help all of us arrive at a proper resolution on this matter.”
The PSC insisted that it had already begun a series of separate dialogues with each party, “even before issuing our previous statement that ‘we shall intervene when appropriate,’ with the quick and just resolution of the issue in mind.”
Earlier, senators moved to recall the budget of the PSC after saying that the commission took a “hands-off” approach on the controversy.