Press Release
October 18, 2023

Bong Go remains confident of EJ Obiena's integrity amid doping accusations

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go has voiced his support for acclaimed Filipino pole vaulter EJ Obiena, amidst recent doping accusations hurled against the athlete through social media.

"As Chair of the Senate Committee on Sports, we will always support and protect the integrity of our Filipino athletes," Go said in a statement released on Tuesday, October 17, in defense of Obiena.

Go emphasized the severity of the allegation made by Anais Lavillenie, and said it tarnished the reputation of a "national sports hero who happens to hold the current Asian record in pole vault."

The controversy started after Lavillenie, wife of 2012 Olympic gold medalist pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie, insinuated through a social media post, that Obiena used banned substances.

The accusation was made after Thiago Braz, another athlete trained by Obiena's coach, tested positive for performance-enhancing substances earlier in July.

"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," Obiena said in response to the accusation while insinuating the possibility of legal action.

Meanwhile, Go focused on the established protocols for addressing doping allegations and said "If there is a need for any national athlete to undergo necessary and official tests from the anti-doping body, there is a process for this which I am sure any elite national team is aware of."

"I urge the one who makes such a claim to substantiate it and not resort to ruining someone's reputation on social media," Go said as he condemned the baseless accusation and reiterated the importance of professionalism in sports.

The senator's remarks resonate with his past advocacy for a disciplined and clean sports culture in the country. In 2022, Go advocated for a substantial budget allocation to promote anti-doping education and measures within the athletic community. He successfully championed a P12 million budget allocation for an Anti-Doping Campaign, which underlined his commitment to uphold integrity and fairness in Philippine sports.

Meanwhile, Obiena's camp has arranged for a polygraph test to be conducted, the results of which will be shared publicly to address the accusations head-on and uphold Obiena's professional standing in the global athletic community.

Go reiterated his skepticism towards such accusations, attributing them to jealousy or malicious intent, particularly in view of Obiena's international triumphs.

"Nanalo lang, pinagbintangan na agad. Baka inggit lang siguro. Walang gamot sa inggit," concluded Go.

Obiena's accolades certainly speak volumes about his caliber. He notably clinched a gold medal at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China this year, setting a new Asian Games record in pole vault by clearing 5.90 meters, thereby surpassing the previous record of 5.75 meters held by Japan's Seito Yamamato since 2018.

Furthermore, Obiena holds the current Asian record in pole vault with a height of 6.01 meters, attained at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, USA on July 25, 2022, where he also secured a bronze medal, marking him as the first Filipino to achieve this feat.

His outstanding performance places him among the top contenders for the 2024 Paris Olympics, aiming to further etch his name in history as the first Filipino to bag an Olympic medal in athletics.

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