PORT LOUIS – The concerns and allegations raised against Athletics Kenya, AK, are very serious and need to be addressed, according to International Olympic Committee, President Thomas Bach.
For the second consecutive day, a group of Kenyan athletes who were joined by the former World marathon record holder Wilson Kipsang, occupied the offices of AK, Riadha house.
The athletes want the top brass of the national governing body to step down over corruption and doping cover-up allegations, a decision that was also endorsed by the Government.
Bach said he had been following the developments and he was concerned with the allegations that had led the athletes to take matters into their own hands.
“What I heard is that some athletes were entering the headquarters of the national Athletics Federation. This has to be taken very seriously and addressed. I will take the opportunity here to meet with the representatives of the Kenyan committee,” he said ahead of his scheduled briefing with the National Olympics Committee of Kenya Chairman Kipchoge Keino and Paul Tergat, the IOC member. Bach is in Mauritius attending the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa, ANOCA general assembly.
Kiplagat, Okeyo should resign
Claims that dominated a meeting held on Tuesday in Nairobi, and prompted the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of sports, Richard Ekai, to back the athletes calls for the president Isaiah Kiplagat and David Okeyo to resign.
Kiplagat is expected stay through his mandate as the head of the federation until 2017, a decision that infuriated the athletes.
A hurriedly assembled meeting at the Nyayo national stadium chaired by Ekai and attended by AK Vice-president Jack Tuwei representing the Federation and Kipsang for the athletes under the umbrella body of PAAK agreed among others that:
"We immediately embark on the process of reviewing the current AK constitution to make it in line with the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 and the Sports Act of 2013. That PAAK submits a memorandum of their grievances on the management of AK and present it to MOSCA on or before Monday 30th November 2015.
“The MOSCA(Ministry of Sports, Culture and Arts) under the chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary will convene a joint meeting of stakeholders involving PAAK, AK and the Ministry in resolving the issues raised in the memorandum next week. That the athletes shall be served with dignity and decorum when they visit the offices of AK.
“That there will be no discrimination and or victimisation of any athletes. That alleged issues of corruption and or misappropriation of funds by AK officials be thoroughly investigated.
The IOC head described the situation as a drawback for the athletes who are being manipulated by the doping cover-ups and are genuinely concerned with the governance of their sport.
“If any official is implicated they must be severely sanctioned. This cannot be tolerated that the athletes are manipulated in such a way. Also in this respect then there has to be good cooperation with the government who also have to their job in this respect.”
Kenya Government must act, Bach
Okeyo, the AK vice president and IAAF council member is being investigated by the sports governing body over claims that he alongside Kiplagat and Joseph Kinyua the former treasurer, had pocketed funds from the sponsorship deal with their partner Nike.
The athletes who were joined by the elite runners led Kipsang who chairs the caucus Professional Athletes Association of Kenya whose members occupied Riadha House on Monday and Tuesday, also blamed the AK officials for failing to deal with doping in the sport, conceivably worried with the several warnings and concerns raised by the World Anti Doping Agency, WADA.
WADA insists Kenya has a real problem with a lot of its athletes and ‘there is a lot of performance enhancing drugs being used in Kenya’. Bach said the Kenyan government holds the key to saving and restoring confidence in the local runners.
“I hope that the Kenyan Government is taking its responsibility and making the national anti doping and the rules and regulations compliant. This is what the Kenyan athletes deserve that the government is delivering on its obligation and making these organisations compliant and in this way sanctioned athletes and protecting the clean athletes,” he said.
On the corruption allegations facing suspended president FIFA Sepp Blatter and other officials as well as the former IAAF President Lamine Diack who is being investigated by French police over doping cover up allegations, Bach considers it as a chance for sport to clean up.
“This is an opportunity to clean up. This is why everything has to be put on the table and then sanctions have to be executed and measures have to be taken with good governance.”