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EJ Obiena's coach claims PATAFA 'tricked' him

EJ Obiena's coach claimed that PATAFA misled him into vilifying his prized pole vaulter. Aleksandra Szmigiel/Reuters (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--The tension between the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association and EJ Obiena took a huge turn on Wednesday night when Obiena's coach claimed that PATAFA president Popoy Juico misled him to make his current prized ward a villain in the said issue.

"I was misled by the proactive questioning of Philip Ella Juico and I mistakenly answered his questionnaire according to the way he wanted me to which is to make EJ Obiena look like a criminal," Vitaliy Petrov said in a statement.

He then recalled how Juico reached out to him and former star student Sergei Bubka regarding the status of his salary as being paid by Obiena.

The alleged salary issue is the root of the feud between Obiena and PATAFA.

"I have been directly approached by Philip Ella Juico and heavily questioned, alongside my former Sergei Bubka, in a manner which confused me and I felt pressured to answer in the way that they wanted me to answer," Petrov aired his side of the story.

He continued, "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."

Petrov only realized that Obiena is being vilified when reports began to surface about him allegedly still owing his coach 85,000 euros (around PHP4.8 million).

"I now understand this was a focused mission to try and find fault with EJ... I was tricked," Petrov further said. "I answered it that way because I honestly thought that it would help unburden EJ of this unnecessary role of managing my payments and that he could fully focus on training."

He added, "I never could have imagined it would be used in the way it is used now as a weapon to destroy a promising career."

Petrov then expressed that he is standing by Obiena, saying, "I confirm with 100 percent certainty that EJ has indeed paid to me not only 85,000 euros but slightly more. I have no issue with EJ and his payments to me, and I confirm he has fully paid up to date."

Petrov concluded by saying that this would be the last time he speaks up on the Obiena-PATAFA row.

"I do not have more time to waste in this proverbial 'witch hunt,'" Petrov ended his statement.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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