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PATAFA still investigating issue with EJ Obiena; PSC to intervene only 'when appropriate'

The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) on Monday said it was in the process of looking into the matter regarding Olympic pole vaulter EJ Obiena and the organization's claims of falsified liquidation and failure of payment to coach Vitaliy Petrov.

In a message to GMA News Online on Monday, PATAFA chief Philip Juico said "the matter is being investigated by the Investigating Committee."

It was reported on Sunday that PATAFA is asking Obiena to return 85,000 Euros or over P4 million worth of financial assistance due to the incident.

The Olympian, however, denied PATAFA's claims. He appeared in a press conference that same day alongside Petrov and he showed proof that the coach received the payments in question. He has also asked an independent, third party auditor to conduct an audit, which he will release to the public.

Obiena feels, however, that PATAFA's charges against him could be considered as slander and defamation of character. The Asian pole vault record holder said he may consider retirement if the issue will not be settled and a public apology is not made.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Sports Commission said it will only intervene in the situation when necessary.

"For now, let us allow PATAFA and EJ to sort the matter internally within their NSA, as it should be. The PSC will intervene when it is appropriate," PSC chairman Butch Ramirez said in a statement.

Petrov, a world-renowned athletics coach, was integral in Obiena's campaign to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and is still part of the Filipino pole vaulter's team for the 2024 Paris Games bid.

—With reporting by Bea Micaller/JMB, GMA News