IAAF Coun­cil mem­ber Okeyo banned for life in Nike money case

The Record (Troy, NY) - - SPORTS - By Ger­ald Im­ray The As­so­ci­ated Press

IAAF Coun­cil mem­ber David Okeyo of Kenya was banned from track and field for life Thurs­day for his role in di­vert­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars of spon­sor­ship money from Nike for his and oth­ers’ per­sonal use.

It was an­other case point­ing to deep- rooted graft in the sport in Kenya, which has been the most suc­cess­ful dis­tancerun­ning na­tion in the world for decades but is see­ing that rep­u­ta­tion eroded by a series of dop­ing and cor­rup­tion scan­dals.

Those scan­dals have swept across the Kenyan ter­rain over the last few years, im­pli­cat­ing in var­i­ous cases ath­letes, coaches and agents right up to the most se­nior of­fi­cials.

Okeyo, the former sec­re­tary gen­eral and a vice pres­i­dent of the Kenyan track fed­er­a­tion, is also fac­ing charges of ex­tort­ing money from ath­letes in a sep­a­rate IAAF ethics case that has links to the East African coun­try’s dop­ing cri­sis.

In the Nike money case, ev­i­dence in­di­cated that two other high-rank­ing of­fi­cials at the Kenyan fed­er­a­tion were also in­volved in fun­nel­ing off cash. They were former Ath­let­ics Kenya pres­i­dent Isa­iah Ki­pla­gat, once a long- serv­ing IAAF Coun­cil mem­ber him­self, and former AK trea­surer Joseph Kinyua.

Ki­pla­gat died in 2016 be­fore he could face charges and Kinyua, alt hough i nves­ti­ga­tors found he was also in­volved, es­caped pun­ish­ment be­cause he wasn’t bound by the IAAF’s code of ethics at the time of the of­fenses.

Okeyo was, how­ever, guilty of breach­ing the IAAF’s ethics code on 10 oc­ca­sions and “over a long pe­riod of time,” a three­mem­ber I AAF ethics panel said in its writ­ten de­ci­sion. Okeyo’s wrong­do­ing started as far back as 2004, the panel found.

As well as his life ban, Okeyo was fined $50,000, which he was or­dered to pay to AK. He was or­dered to pay an­other $100,000 in le­gal costs to the IAAF. He was also for­mally ex­pelled as an IAAF Coun­cil mem­ber. He had been sus­pended from his roles since 2015.

The de­ci­sion was an­nounced by the IAAF ethics board fol­low­ing a three- year in­ves­ti­ga­tion and a hear­ing in Nairobi in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary.

“My lawyers will ap­peal the de­ci­sion,” Okeyo said.

He can ap­peal to the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport in Switzer­land within 21 days.

Kinyua claimed the case had “vin­di­cated” him.

But that wasn’t how the ethics panel saw it. The panel said he was “found to have en­gaged in sim­i­lar con­duct” to Okeyo but couldn’t be sanc­tioned un­der an old ver­sion of the IAAF ethics code, which has since been up­dated.

The panel said ev­i­dence in­di­cated that 16 pay­ments to­tal­ing a lit­tle over $1.2 mil­lion be­tween 2004 and 2012 were made from AK’s bank ac­counts to a sep­a­rate ac­count, which Okeyo and the two other men had ac­cess to and with­drew cash sums from.

Okeyo wasn’t found guilty of si­phon­ing off all of that Nike money, with in­ves­ti­ga­tors un­able to get com­pelling ev­i­dence of wrong­do­ing on some. But large sums of the money were taken “for his own direct or in­di­rect per­sonal ben­e­fit” and not for AK busi­ness, the panel con­cluded.

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