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Obiena Ready To Move Forward After Accuser Apologizes For Doping Allegation

Obiena Ready To Move Forward After Accuser Apologizes For Doping Allegation
EJ Obiena of the Philippines clears the bar at 5.90 meters to win the gold in the men’s pole vault final of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China on Sept. 30, 2023. Reuters photo

World No. 2 pole vaulter EJ Obiena is ready to move forward after receiving public apology from the wife of a pole vaulter who accused him of doping or using performance-enhancing.

On Thursday, Oct. 26, Obiena posted a letter of apology from Anais Poumarat, the wife of French pole vaulter and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Renaud Lavillenie dated Tuesday, Oct. 24. 

“I received today the attached apology letter from Anais Lavillenie. I accept this. She admits she was wrong and she admits what she did was wrong.  This fact, alongside all other facts makes it clear. I am a 100% CLEAN ATHLETE,” he said.

“This for me closes this matter. I want to thank everyone who stood behind me and supported me… I would also like to deeply thank all the netizens who supported me, maraming Salamat po, but also ask everyone to cease any further messaging to Anais Lavillenie and Renaud Lavillenie. Let us all be the bigger person and move forward from this. On to Paris 2024!” he added.

Poumarat issued her “sincere apologies” for writing “untruthful words” toward Obiena and his Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov. 

“I made a stupid amalgam that I should never have done and written, I admit, and that’s why I deleted the comment after the fact,  but the damage was done. I am sincerely sorry… I am aware that I have disrespected you and your coach and I deeply regret my act,” Poumarat told Obiena. 

“Thank you for understanding my apologies for my unacceptable behavior. Good luck [on your] training,” Poumarat concluded. 

Poumarat made the allegations in response to a post of Vaulter Magazine-Vaulter Club Inc. on Facebook last Oct. 12, where it asked whether Obiena can beat World No. 1 Armand Duplantis in the 2024 Paris Olympics. 

“Obiena doped and it’ll [fail] like [Thiago] Braz. Same coach, Same plan, same objective!” Lavillenie said in a now-deleted comment

Obiena and Brazil’s 2016 Olympic gold medalist Thiago Braz are both trained by Petrov. Last July, Braz tested positive for ostarine, a banned substance for muscle growth, and was placed on administrative suspension. 

The Brazilian upset Lavillenie for the gold medal in pole vaulting in the 2016 Olympics, with the French athlete taking home the silver. In an interview with On CNN Philippines’ “Sports Desk” last Oct. 16, Obiena’s mentor James Michael Lafferty linked Poumarat’s allegations to this.

Lafferty said Lavillenie felt “robbed” of the gold medal after Braz tested positive for doping earlier this year. But he noted that Braz had not trained with Petrov since mid-2022.

Obiena earlier expressed his disappointment over the allegations.

“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. 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.

In his latest post, he noted how “went further in defense than any athlete in history has done,” recalling the 34 passed drug tests from the World-Anti Doping Agency (WADA), a polygraph test and separate Eye Detect test from Converus that he all passed.

“I shall always strive to do what is right and be the bigger person. To conduct myself with honor and dignity. The last step of restoring my drug-free reputation comes from an admission of wrong from my accuser – Anais Lavillenie. I can obtain this via a legal case; or by her own admission,” he wrote.

The athlete said he has no desire to disrupt his Paris Olympics preparation by pursuing a legal case.

“I also would like to keep the close-knit nature of the elite pole vault community and have no desire to disrupt these dynamics,” he said. “So, I am prepared to accept a full and complete apology and move on. This is what I believe the bigger person would do.”

In July, Obiena became the first Filipino to qualify for the 2024 Olympics. He did so after clearing the Olympic standard of 5.82 meters at the Bauhaus Galan in Stockholm, Sweden.