Kenyan govt asks athletics fed­er­a­tion chiefs to quit

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

NAIROBI: The Kenyan govern­ment yes­ter­day called for top of­fi­cials in its athletics fed­er­a­tion to step down af­ter ath­letes stormed Athletics Kenya (AK) head­quar­ters in Nairobi in protest over cor­rup­tion and fee­ble ef­forts to tackle dop­ing.

The East African coun­try boasts some of the world’s finest mid­dle and long-dis­tance run­ners but in re­cent years has been shaken by a spate of failed drug tests un­der­gone by ath­letes. AK of­fi­cials have de­nied em­bez­zling funds re­lat­ing to a spon­sor­ship deal with US sports gi­ant Nike, and say Kenya is do­ing its best to root out drug cheats de­spite lim­ited re­sources.

A group of ath­letes swooped on the AK head­quar­ters on Monday morn­ing, or­der­ing staff to leave and bar­ri­cad­ing them­selves in­side un­til Tues­day evening. The stand-off ended af­ter ath­letes met with govern­ment of­fi­cials.

In a joint state­ment with ath­letes, Richard Ekai, the top civil ser­vant in the sports min­istry, called for “any AK of­fi­cials men­tioned ... or be­ing in­ves­ti­gated for cor­rup­tion to step aside to al­low for fur­ther full and con­clu­sive in­ves­ti­ga­tion to be done”. Long-serv­ing AK Pres­i­dent Isa­iah Ki­pla­gat, Vice Pres­i­dent David Okeyo and former AK trea­surer Joseph Kinyua were ques­tioned ear­lier this year by the po­lice over the Nike spon­sor­ship funds and their files were for­warded to the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tion (DPP) for fur­ther ac­tion. Okeyo, Ki­pla­gat and Kinyua have de­nied any wrong­do­ing. Ki­pla­gat, who in May tem­po­rar­ily stepped down from his AK post to con­test the vice pres­i­dency of the world athletics body IAAF, it­self mired in its worst-ever dop­ing cri­sis, on Wed­nes­day re­jected calls for him to step down.

“We are go­ing to wait for rec­om­men­da­tions from the (Athletics Kenya) ex­ec­u­tive. Non-elected peo­ple can­not de­cide our fate. It’s clear, only elected of­fi­cials can ask one to va­cate the of­fice,” said Ki­pla­gat.

The state­ment by sports min­istry Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary Ekai was co-signed by AK’s act­ing pres­i­dent, Jack Tuwei, and Wil­son Kip­sang, a former world marathon record holder and pres­i­dent of the Pro­fes­sional Ath­letes As­so­ci­a­tion of Kenya (PAAK). It was PAAK mem­bers who stormed the AK head­quar­ters on Monday, fear­ful Kenyan ath­letes could face col­lec­tive pun­ish­ment from the World An­tiDop­ing Agency for a rash of failed tests. Kenya topped the medals ta­ble at the Au­gust world cham­pi­onships in China but PAAK ath­letes worry that al­leged graft by AK chiefs could see the coun­try fol­low Rus­sia in be­ing banned from in­ter­na­tional track and field. The state­ment said PAAK ath­letes would meet sports min­istry of­fi­cials next week to list their griev­ances with AK, an or­gan­i­sa­tion they say has failed to lis­ten to ath­letes’ con­cerns and does take care of Kenya’s cham­pion run­ners. “There will be no dis­crim­i­na­tion and or vic­tim­i­sa­tion of any ath­letes,” the state­ment said. “Al­leged is­sues of cor­rup­tion and or mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of funds by AK of­fi­cials (will) be thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gated.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.