EJ Obiena, the accomplished Filipino pole vaulter, has responded to accusations of doping that emerged in the comments section of a social media post.
The Facebook page “Vaulter Magazine – Vaulter Club Inc.” shared a story from the Manila Times where Obiena expressed his aspirations of competing against world record holder Mondo Duplantis of Sweden in the upcoming Paris Olympics.
Among the comments on the post, one stood out from the profile of Anais Lavillenie, the wife of former world record-holder and 2012 Olympics gold medalist Renaud Lavillenie of France. The comment read, “Obeina [sic] doped and it’ll fall like Braz. Same coach, Same plan, same objective!”
The account did not respond when directly questioned about whether Obiena was being accused of using performance-enhancing drugs. Obiena later posted a screenshot of the comments on his Facebook account.
Obiena said, “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.”
He continued, “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.”
Obiena has recently ascended to the second position in the world rankings, with only Duplantis ahead of him. He made it to the elite six-meter club in pole vault in July this year after registering the historic milestone of his career in a Norway event.
He also clinched golds in the Cambodia Southeast Asian Games, the Asian Championships, and the Hangzhou Asian Games on top of securing the runner-up honors in the world championships and the Diamond League finals where Duplantis emerged as champion.
The mention of “Braz” in the Facebook comment refers to Thiago Braz, the Brazilian pole vaulter who clinched gold in the 2016 Rio Olympics and also happens to be Obiena’s training partner. Both athletes are under the guidance of Ukrainian coaching legend Vitaly Petrov, which is likely the context of the comment.
Braz faced suspension in July 2023 due to a positive test for ostarine—a selective androgen receptor modulator renowned for its capacity to improve physical endurance and fitness. This could potentially lead to a ban of up to four years.
Jim Lafferty, a personal advisor of Obiena, also commented on the post, asserting, “EJ is a winner. A 100% clean winner.” He said that Obiena has never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and undergoes regular anti-doping procedures. He also indicated that they will seek legal advice regarding the comments posted on the page, which boasts over 93,000 followers.
At 37 years old, Renaud Lavillenie once held the pole vault world record. Despite securing a silver medal in the 2016 Olympics, trailing behind Braz, his performance in the 2023 season hasn’t reached the same heights. According to official World Athletics records, Lavillenie’s most notable achievement this year was clearing a height of 5.61 meters in a Poland competition in June.