TOKYO Olympian pole-vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena has tapped the services of a law firm in preparation for what could turn out as a legal battle between him and the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA).

“Today (yesterday), 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,” said Mr. Obiena in his recent social media post.

The 26-year-old Mr. Obiena has also sought the advice of another lawyer, Bobbet Bruce, who will serve as one of his spokepersons along with long-time adviser and patron Jim Lafferty.

“I have also asked Jim Lafferty and Atty. Bobbet Bruce in Manila to be my official spokepersons to represent me, to properly get my message across and officially address all pertinent questions with my current situations with my NSA (national sports association),” said Mr. Obiena.

Mr. Obiena, however, did not mention if he had agreed to the suggestion to have his impasse with the PATAFA mediated by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), for its part, has started its probe on the issue that stemmed from PATAFA’s accusation that the World No. 5 and Asian record-holder has allegedly falsified liquidation reports regarding payment to his Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov.

The Southeast Asian (SEA)Games gold medalist denied it.

“These are exceedingly tough times, and I am thankful for all the people who are standing by me. Maraming salamat po (Thank you very much). I am thankful to you all,” he said. — Joey Villar