PATAFA’s Juico: No coercing Vitaly Petrov; Obiena coach ‘volunteered info’

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 02 2021 05:32 AM

National track and field federation chief Philip Juico rejected allegations by Ukrainian pole-vault coach Vitaly Petrov that he forced him to address salary-report discrepancies to make Filipino Olympian EJ Obiena "look like a criminal."

"Petrov was asked and he answered freely and even volunteered information. He was fully aware. He knows the truth," Juico alleged in a statement emailed to media early Thursday.

Earlier Wednesday, Petrov alleged that when the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) — the sport's national governing body led by Juico — asked the coach about inconsistencies in the salary report he felt the sport's national governing body was set out to make Obiena "look like a criminal."

Petrov added that the row was "destroying lives and careers for nothing."

"I was tricked. I answered it that way because I honestly thought that it would help unburden EJ of his unnecessary role of managing my payments . . . 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 alleged in a statement issued Wednesday night.

"I mistakenly answered his questionnaire according to the way he wanted me to which is to make EJ Obiena look like a criminal."

But Juico alleged Petrov had even updated him of the progress he made answering the PATAFA's questions. 

"Petrov knows the truth. 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," Juico said. 

"I promised him and Sergey I would help recover the missing fees because, as Sergey Bubka said, it was embarrassing to the Philippines."

Bubka, a pole-vault Olympic gold medalist and multiple world champion, is senior vice president of World Athletics, the sport's international governing body.

In a separate email sent by Juico to ABS-CBN News, a document in the form of a questionnaire and dated September 23 showed Petrov was surprised that the PATAFA was paying Petrov's salary. 

"It was a shock for me to find out that all these years the PATAFA paid me some money. I still could not believe that EJ could take this money for personal purpose as out relations were always not only professional but friendly," Petrov wrote.

The document served as one of the PATAFA's bases to accuse Obiena of irregularities regarding his coach's pay.

"We never discussed any arrangements with PATAFA. EJ said that PATAFA has no money to pay for my work and that he is in contact with them on the further decision of this question," Petrov wrote in the document.

He alleged that he received about 24,000 euros from Obiena, which he thought came from his sponsor and not from the PATAFA. 

"Last year, I received two sums from James Lafferty one on the 23rd of November 2020 in sum of 10,363.75 Euro and other on the 30th of November 2020 in the sum of 10,475 Euro. As I understand that money was for the coaching of EJ from his sponsor," he said.

"On the 15th of June 2021, I have received from EJ 2,850 Euro as the professional fee but I didn't know that this money as from PATAFA. In full the sum for all years was about 24,000 Euro and I was grateful for EJ that he could find this sum for my work with him."

Petrov said he only learned during a September 9 telephone conversation with Juico and Bubka that the PATAFA had been paying out money for him.

The PATAFA is asking Obiena to return 85,000 euros (over P4.8 million), which was part of Petrov’s salary since 2018.

Petrov on Wednesday cleared Obiena of any wrongdoing.

"I hereby formally withdraw any prior statements of documents association to me. This is the only document that may be attributed to myself," the coach said.

"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.'" — With a report by Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBN News

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