Pole vaulter EJ Obiena‘s coach Vitaly Petrov claimed that he was tricked by the country’s athletic organization in the latest episode of the funding row.
Petrov made this claim in an official statement about the matter that was reported on December 1.
This also came after Phillip Ella Juico, president of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA), said in an interview that the coach was the one who approached him to talk about the latter’s unpaid fees.
Petrov, however, denied this.
In his lengthy response, he said that it was Juico who approached him and his former athlete Sergei Bubka, also a pole vaulter.
A Reddit user posted a copy of it in an online forum called r/Philippines.
“I have never proactively complained to anyone on EJ and payments, specifically never to PATAFA or to any Philippines sports official. What happened is, I have been directly approached by Philip Ella Juico and heavily questioned, alongside my former athlete Sergei Bubka, in a manner that confused me and I felt pressured to answer in the way that they wanted me to answer,” he said.
“I now understand that this was a focused mission to try and find fault with EJ,” he added.
Petrov perceived that he was “tricked” into signing a questionnaire that he thought would “facilitate smoother payments.”
“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. I was tricked,” the veteran pole vaulting coach said.
“I answered it that way because I honestly thought that it would unburden EJ of this unnecessary role of managing my payments and that he could fully focus on training,” he added.
Petrov further went on and expressed his dismay that the questionnaire was used as a “weapon” against Obiena.
“To be clear, I never initiated any such discussions or documents. It was initiated by Philip Ella Juico,” he said.
Moreover, Petrov also cleared Obiena of any alleged undue obligations for him and other issues.
He concluded by informing the public that this official document will be the only one to be attributed to his name from then on.
“I will be making no further statements. I have athletes who need me. I do not have more time to waste on this proverbial ‘witch hunt’,” Petrov said.
In an email sent to reporters on December 2, Juico countered Petrov’s claims.
He alleged that the latter “volunteered” to provide PATAFA with information.
“Petrov was asked and he answered freely and even volunteered information. He was fully aware. He knows the truth,” he was quoted as saying.
Juico also said that Petrov even expressed appreciation for his help.
“He knows and appreciated my help and even encouraged me to report his and Sergey Bubka’s statements to the PATAFA board to help recover his unpaid fees. I promised him and Sergey I would help recover the missing fees because, as Sergey Bubka said, it was embarrassing to the Philippines,” he was quoted as saying.
In a separate statement on Thursday afternoon, Juico refuted Petrov anew, saying he was “constrained to speak up.”
“Petrov disclaims preparing a questionnaire that he, however, himself answered, corresponded on and emailed. There are a number of text messages that have him working on the progress he is making and these messages will come out eventually,” Juico’s statement read.
The PATAFA official maintained that Petrov “knows the truth.” He added that he has no control over the coach’s actions or decisions.
“How can I Petrov be pressured, coerced, misled, or tricked by me or PATAFA when we are not even in the same continent or time zones?!” Juico said.
How the public responded
Some Filipinos called on PATAFA officials who were responsible for the row to resign and issue an apology.
“This is one strong statement that exposes PATAFA’s bullsh*t. Juico and the others should resign or be fired,” one Reddit user said.
Others hoped that the burden of administrative tasks should be removed from the athletes in the future.
“This should open and hopefully have dedicated accountants or managers for our athletes instead of over burdening them with admin tasks,” one Twitter user said.
“PATAFA should handle administrative works for athletes from now on,” another online user wrote.