‘Disappointed, angry’: EJ Obiena reacts to doping accusation amid Paris Olympics bid

October 16, 2023 - 12:28 PM
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Pole vaulter EJ Obiena during the awarding ceremony of the 2023 World Athletics Championships (EJObiena/Facebook)

Pole vaulter EJ Obiena and his team are exploring legal options to respond to an accusation that he was using illegal drugs during the games.

Obiena on October 15 posted a screenshot of the comment left by Anais Lavillenie, wife of London 2012 Olympics pole vault gold medalist Renaud Lavillenie of France, under a post by the Facebook page Vaulter Magazine-Vaulter Club, Inc.

The page shared a report from the Manila Times with a quote card where Obiena expressed confidence that he can beat reigning Olympic pole-vaulting champion Armand Duplantis at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“I can beat Duplantis in Paris,” the Filipino athlete was quoted as saying.

Lavillenie was among those who reacted to the Vaulter Magazine’s share of the report.

“[Obiena] doped and it’ll fall like Braz. Same coach, same plan, same objective!” she said.

Lavillenie was referring to Thiago Braz, a Brazilian pole vaulter who was suspended last July for testing positive for doping.

Braz trained under renowned Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov, who is also Obiena’s coach.

Lavillenie’s comment has since been filtered out in the comments section of the page.

Obiena managed to take a screenshot of it and share it on his Facebook account.

He also expressed how “wronged” he felt by the accusation.

“I want to remain classy and dignified on this subject. All I will say is I am disappointed, angry and feel wronged by these statements,” Obiena said.

“I will let the story evolve while my team explores the many angles including legal. I guess this is part of the price you pay when you win,” he added.

Interpol defines doping as “the act of consuming artificial and often illegal substances to gain an advantage over others in sporting competitions (anabolic steroids, human growth hormones, stimulants and diuretics for example).”

An athlete testing positive for the intake of illegal substances is a cause of deep concern to many people, including the player’s supporters.

Gilas Pilipinas’ naturalized player Justin Brownlee got a “positive” result from his doping test following the team’s first gold at the 2023 Asian Games in China.

The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) said that Brownlee can still dispute this test.

The committee also assured that the gold medal remains with the Philippines.

READ: Gold stays despite doping shocker 

‘Biased, irresponsible’

Business Mirror also reported the reaction of Obiena’s personal confidante Jim Lafferty.

“It’s biased. It’s irresponsible.  It’s reckless. It’s unprofessional. It’s a false accusation, with zero foundation,” Lafferty was quoted in the report as saying.

He also asserted that Obiena has never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) in all the anti-doping procedures he underwent in the previous games.

Lafferty perceived this situation as “a story” of a Filipino making “people uncomfortable” because of his performance in the sport.

“She says he dopes, no evidence whatsoever. But it’s a bigger story than this — it’s a story of how a Filipino is succeeding in a traditional European sport that makes people uncomfortable… and leads them to embrace lies because they can’t handle the truth,” he was quoted in the report as saying.

The doping accusation came after Obiena’s latest string of wins in the sport this year.

He joined the 6-meter club in pole vaulting two times, at the Bergen Jump Challenge in Norway and at the World Athletics Championships where he snagged the Philippines’ first-ever silver medal.

Moreover, Obiena also clinched gold at the Hangzhou 19th Asian Games.

READ: Obiena strikes 1st gold for Philippines in Asian Games | ‘You guys are the real MVP!’: EJ Obiena dedicates pole vault silver in world championships to Filipinos