Kenya track federation HQ under police protection
FILE - Athletes run past a sign for Athletics Kenya at the Discovery cross country races, in Eldoret, Kenya, on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
The Associated Press
Published Wednesday, May 25, 2016 4:51PM EDT
NAIROBI, Kenya -- Already mired in doping and corruption scandals, Kenya's track and field federation has called in police to help guard its headquarters, fearing disgruntled athletes might try to take over the premises in protest for a second time.
Athletics Kenya President Jackson Tuwei said Wednesday that the federation had asked police this week for help to protect its HQ in Nairobi. Tuwei said he also fears the group of athletes will try and disrupt the Kenyan national championships, which start Thursday and will act as trials for the African championships next month.
Athletes linked to the Professional Athletes Association of Kenya occupied the federation building for two days in November in protest at alleged corruption by officials and their failure to deal with the country's doping problems.
Kenyan athletics is facing its biggest crisis, with dozens of athletes banned for doping in recent years and four senior officials suspended and under investigation by the IAAF for alleged corruption - including possible doping coverups. Linked to the track federation's problems, Kenya's anti-doping program was declared non-compliant this month and was suspended by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
The PAAK said the federation had not honoured an agreement the parties reached to end the standoff last year. Among the grievances, there have not been proper elections to replace the four officials -- who include Athletics Kenya's two most senior officials -- currently under investigation for corruption, the PAAK said.
Tuwei took over as head of Athletics Kenya after the president, Isaiah Kiplagat, vice-president David Okeyo, and chief executive Isaac Mwangi were all suspended pending investigations by track and field's world governing body. A former federation treasurer is also under investigation. The allegations against them are the subversion of the anti-doping process in Kenya and the embezzlement of around $700,000 of sponsorship money from sportswear giant Nike.
PAAK Nairobi secretary Julius Ndegwa said Tuwei and two new vice-presidents have taken some of those suspended officials' positions without proper process.
"To date we are in darkness on which criteria was used for them to take over office of people whose cases are still with the IAAF," Ndegwa said. "They just had to look for a back door way to take office without doing elections."
Ndegwa led the protesters last year when they stormed the federation building early in the morning, asked staff to leave and barricaded the front gates.
Tuwei dismissed the PAAK's latest claims, saying they were not "serious athletes."
"Serious athletes ... do not have time to come and idle around waiting for an opportunity to seize our headquarters," Tuwei said.