MARY Joy Tabal’s status in the national team is in hot water anew after the Philippine Athletics and Track and Field Association (Patafa) issued a “letter of release” to the Cebuana marathoner.

Tabal confirmed to reporters yesterday that she has received an email from Patafa, the national sports association for track and field in the country, last Aug. 31.

“Yes it’s true. But right now I’ll choose not to comment on the issue yet. We’re going to release an official statement,” said Tabal, during the opening ceremony of the 21st Milo Little Olympics Visayas Regional Finals yesterday.

The news broke when Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) commissioner Ramon Fernandez posted it on Facebook. “Rio Olympic Marathon finisher Mary Joy Tabal was just given her walking papers by Phillip Juico of the Patafa as of Aug. 30,” he wrote.

In a separate interview, Jonel Borromeo of Motor Ace Philippines, Tabal’s major corporate backer, said that they were not surprised with the letter. He clarified that although there was a letter it was not an issue as they were expecting it.

“Tabal joined the Olympics and we agreed with Patafa that on her return, we will discuss the process. We have not discussed the concerns with Patafa yet because she rested after her Olympic stint. We are looking to meet with Patafa again and discuss the arrangements and I’m sure that she will be reinstated once we sit and discuss. It’s a matter of weighing all the options that is best for the athletes,” he said.

The 27-year-old Tabal needs to be part of the PHL team to join big events like the Southeast Asian (SEA Games) next year, Asian Games and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

To recall, Tabal was reinstated by Patafa to the national team last June after she qualified to the Olympics. She had a short stint in the national team in 2015 and won a silver medal in the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore.

Tabal was the first Filipina marathoner to qualify and finish the Olympics. She clocked 3 hours 2 minutes and 27 seconds in Rio, Brazil and was the 124th female marathoner to finish. About 20 marathoners did not finish.

Tha native of Barangay Guba, Cebu City is aiming to represent the country again in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and with the letter of release from Patafa, that dream gets a little bit blurry.