MANILA, Philippines -- Filipino pole vaulter EJ Obiena has retained the services of lawyers in the wake of his dispute with the country's athletic federation over funding.
The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) has ordered Obiena to return a sum of 85,000 euros, and alleged that the athlete falsified his liquidation documents while also failing to pay his Ukrainian coach, Vitaly Petrov.
Obiena refuted the accusations, with Petrov also revealing that he has been paid in full by the pole vaulter. The Tokyo Olympian demanded a retraction and an apology from PATAFA, but the federation did not back down and pushed through with its investigation into the athlete.
With the dispute now being looked into by the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Obiena announced that he has hired lawyers who can advise him on how to move forward.
"Today, I have officially engaged Atty. Alex Avisado and the Gana Tan Atienza Avisado Law Offices as my legal counsel to represent me in all current and future investigations including the filing of any possible and appropriate civil, criminal, and administrative actions," Obiena announced on his Facebook page.
Avisado has been "advising me on the twist and turns of this unending and ever so changing issue," Obiena revealed.
Obiena had filed a complaint against PATAFA with the POC, as well as the International Olympic Committee and World Athletics.
PSC, meanwhile, has offered to mediate between the two parties.
Obiena, who has regularly released his statements on his social media pages, also tapped his mentor, Jim Lafferty and another lawyer, Atty. Bobbet Bruce, to be his official spokespersons, "to properly get my messaging across and officially address all pertinent questions with my current situation with my NSA."
Meanwhile, PATAFA president Philip Ella Juico has said that while he is open to a discussion with Obiena, they must first complete their investigation into the pole vaulter.