After being accused of doping, EJ Obiena has taken measures to prove his innocence and has taken a stand against the issue.
The use of the word ‘doping‘ has increased in recent weeks, especially in the wake of the 19th Asian Games, wherein a number of athletes in the continent were reported to have tested positive for using illegal substances to enhance athletic performance. Doping in sports is a big issue, as it conflicts with the fair nature of sporting competitions, and one individual who is deeply affected by this is Filipino pole vaulter EJ Obiena.
Anais Lavillenie, the wife of the 2012 Olympic men’s pole vault gold medalist Renaud Lavillenie, accused Obiena of using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) in the comments section of Vaulter Magazine-Vaulter Club Inc. Facebook page.
Lavillenie’s comment read: “Obiena doped and it’ll fall like Braz. Same coach, same plan, same objective!”
Since then, the comment has been taken down. However, EJ Obiena has been very vocal in defending himself against this allegation. “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,” the world No. 2 pole vaulter posted on his Facebook page.
EJ and his team expressed the need to refute the statements. They were quick to do so, providing evidence contrary to Lavillenie’s comment.
Proving his innocence
In a virtual press conference held on Thursday, October 20, EJ Obiena and his team provided the media with evidence against the doping claims made by Lavillenie. Together with Obiena’s mentor James Lafferty, and coach Vitaly Petrov, they showed evidence that the Filipino Olympian has been subjected to 34 drug tests by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), 11 of which took place just this year, with none of them coming out positive.
On top of this, Obiena was determined to provide even more evidence to his stand.
The 27-year-old also subjected himself to lie detector tests. Polygraph expert Hester du Plessis was also present in the virtual press conference and explained that Obiena underwent two tests. The first was a conventional polygraph method, and the second was the EyeDetect test, a new and supposedly more accurate method of lie detection.
On both tests, EJ was questioned about doping and match-fixing, and he was found to be truthful in both tests.
“He 100 percent passed the polygraph for the absence of any use of PEDs [performance enhancing drugs] or any banned substances, and he also passed 100 percent both doping and match-fixing test areas within eye detect,” du Plessis said in the press conference.
EJ’s stand on doping
“I’ve been very clear,” EJ stated in the press conference, “I am pissed off. When I first read this, I was like, ‘Where did this come from?’ I had not talked to this woman… For her to say this out in public, against me, my team, and my coach makes me fume.”
“I’m clean. I’ve done everything I can to do my best, to get to where I’m at now, and to say I took a shortcut, all that work was because of doping, then of course, I’m pissed,” Obiena added.
Obiena’s camp further expressed that they felt a need to refute this comment, given that it was posted by the wife of a former Olympic gold medalist. However, they are still taking careful consideration in pursuing legal action and are currently in consultation on this matter.
Indeed, Obiena has shown that he is motivated to prove his innocence, as he believes that, “doping should never have space in this sport,” as he stated himself.
“I don’t think there’s a space in sports for doping. All athletes get one chance to be an elite athlete and if you’re robbed of that moment, you can’t ever get it back… The definition of sport should not even entertain doping.”
After a successful 2023 that EJ Obiena has had, highlighted by his jump from No. 3 to No. 2 in the world rankings, his Olympic qualification, and his Asian Games gold, it is easy to see why the Filipino is eager to prove that his athletic performance was achieved fairly. And as the 2024 Paris Olympics looms, Obiena has expressed that this issue has only fueled him to work harder and to prove himself on an even bigger stage.
Banner image from EJ Obiena on Instagram.