PH track and field federation alleges marathoner didn’t abide by terms of deal


Mary Joy Tabal. ABS-CBN Sports

Can the row between the national governing body for track and field, and one of the country’s top runners be ever put to rest?

Both sides hinted at hope, although an immediate resolution remains unlikely.

Philip Ella Juico, president of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA), said closure between the two parties will only happen if Mary Joy Tabal and her group “follow the rules.”

“Tell the truth, respect the organization and the people including other athletes,” Juico said in a text message to ABS-CBN News on Thursday. “Follow the rules and spurn her VIP mentality.”

Jonel Borromeo, one of Tabal’s backers who has spoken on her behalf in the ongoing standoff with the PATAFA, said sitting down and speaking with the federation face to face would help clear the air.

“I don’t think anyone could be blamed. It’s just a classic case of wrong assumptions,” Borromeo said. “(We need) to have a discussion to resolve it.”

According to a written timeline outlined by Juico and emailed to ABS-CBN News, the PATAFA had waited for Borromeo and Tabal to respond to a letter reminding them of the impending expiration of their conditional agreement reinstating Tabal into the federation.

Tabal had resigned from the PATAFA in August 2015 “to pursue her own career path” but was welcomed back in June 2016 ahead of the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. Both sides agreed that the conditional reinstatement would be in effect until the end of the Games or August 31, 2016.

The PATAFA said it reached out to Tabal and Borromeo days before the conditional agreement ran out, essentially offering them a chance for a full reinstatment. On August 31, Borromeo wrote the federation back allegedly saying that he and Tabal hadn’t come yet to a decision whether to accept the PATAFA offer or not.

A few days after on September 9, PATAFA secretary-general Nonoy Unso advised the Philippine Sports Commission that Tabal was no longer with the team.

In February, the PATAFA said that Tabal sent a letter to the PSC claiming that she was being discriminated, penalized and “subjected to intrigue.”

“The letter addressed directly to (the) PSC bypassed PATAFA, which clearly indicates her disregard for this federation, to which she is now addressing her request for reinstatement,” Juico said.

Borromeo said earlier this week that Tabal and his team were supposed to discuss the issue with PATAFA after the Rio Olympics, but a meeting did not push because of his work schedule. 

“I have no intention of having her moved out (of the national team),” he said.

Despite PATAFA’s declaration, Borromeo said Tabal is pushing through with her plan to appeal her reinstatement. 

“If they turn it down, there’s nothing we could do. PATAFA is the only recognized body in athletics that we can deal with,” he said.

(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)

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