What ending can we now expect from the celebrated EJ Obiena case?
Either sad or happy.
Sad if Obiena will retire. Happy if Obiena’s accusers will back off unconditionally.
That is now the instant scenario after two major sports agencies got aboard to try to fix the row between Obiena and his mother federation, the Patafa (Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association) headed by Philip Ella Juico.
The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) hope to fix the brouhaha before things totally get out of hand.
Actually, they have the moral duty to intervene—the POC being the country’s Olympic authority, and the PSC the chief dispenser of government money for sports.
To recall, Obiena, the seemingly unjustly maligned ace pole vaulter from Tondo, Manila, was charged with stealing his coach’s salary. When Obiena, 26, had effectively parried the reputation-shattering blow, the Patafa quickly downgraded the accusation: Obiena had delayed payment of some P4.8 million due Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov.
Almost immediately, Obiena admitted the delay, citing he was burdened by other work outside of his spartan training in keeping with his newly acquired ranking as the world’s No. 5—the highest position ever achieved by an Asian pole vaulter.
Obiena’s explanation came amid Patafa’s allegation that the pride and joy of University of Sto. Tomas falsified papers in his liquidation of Petrov’s salary.
Obiena debunked the charge and accused Patafa of damaging his reputation and honor.
“If they will not apologize publicly, I might quit the sport that I love,” said Obiena.
Oh, no! Can we afford losing Obiena that easily? Are we that crazy to just let go of an elite athlete that is hardest to find, develop? Because he committed a “crime” that palpably looks fake, plain and simple?
Patafa should realize by now that Obiena has not stolen his coach’s salary. Petrov himself has publicly attested to this, appearing in Obiena’s virtual presser to validate his having accepted his salary in full from Obiena.
But will Patafa do it—bow to Obiena’s demand for a public apology?
Why not? Ego destroys.
If truth be told, the “trial’s spotlight” has swung toward Patafa.
That’s Exhibit A for perusal by POC and PSC.
Admit the sin. Save a gem.
November 30, 2021
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