WORLD ATHLETICS, the governing body of the sport, has stated the strife between Olympian pole-vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena and the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) is an internal affair and can only be solved using the latter’s by-laws.

“As previously stated, we consider this as an internal matter, and in line with the approach taken, we encourage all internal disputes of a member federation to be resolved in accordance with stated processes and procedures for resolving disputes in a member federation’s constitution or applicable (and) relevant rules and regulations and that these are run fairly for all concerned,” said World Athletics President Sebastian Coe in a two-page letter to PATAFA chief Philip Ella Juico on Thursday.

Mr. Coe, a two-time middle distance Olympic gold medalist and holder of three world records, also affirmed their recognition of PATAFA as the country’s official ruling body of the centerpiece event.

Apart from electing or appointing its own set of officers, Mr. Coe said PATAFA’s other responsibilities are administering, promoting and developing the sport in the country in accordance with the purposes of World Athletics.

“The PATAFA is a member of World Athletics and as such is the sole governing body of athletics in the Philippines,” said Mr. Coe.

World Athletics has also lauded Mr. Juico for his contribution in promoting the sport worldwide.

“Dr. Philip Juico was also a member of the World Athletics governance and integrity reform working group and values commission and provided valuable input to support the implementation and promotion of these critical areas of work, which are fundamental to underpin our sport and the growth of athletics,” said Mr. Coe.

PATAFA has accused Mr. Obiena of allegedly falsifying liquidations concerning payments to Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov that the World No. 5 and Asian record-holder repeatedly denied.

Last week, Mr. Obiena and the PATAFA agreed to sit down and resolve the issue and, as a sign of good faith, the latter deferred from implementing its plan of expelling the former from the national team and filing an estafa case.

PATAFA chair Rufus Rodriguez and board member Felix Tiukinhoy, Jr. thanked Mr. Coe for the support.

“We thank Lord Sebastian Coe who was once a Member of the British Parliament, for his succinct grasp of the issues and his very clear response regarding the work of PATAFA in upholding the values of World Athletics. This statement defines our working relationship with other sports stakeholders. We should be guided by it and work in harmony,” said Mr. Rodriguez.

“This statement should settle with finality the metes and bounds of all sports stakeholders especially with respect to the role of PATAFA. This statement should put a stop to overreaching and serve as an inspiration to other NSAs who look with concern at the actuations of sports leaders,” said Mr. Tiukinhoy. — Joey Villar