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Kenya official on the spot for transfer of athletes to foreign countries

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Pressure is mounting on Athletics Kenya officials to answer to charges on how 36 locals were cleared to compete for other nations at the Rio Olympics.

This comes as Kenya’s Olympic committee officials are facing questions from the country’s Criminal Investigation department of the police on their role in the scam.

Two-time Boston Marathon winner, Moses Tanui, in an interview in Nairobi said anyone moving abroad to compete for a different country must get clearance from AK.

However, if there is any objection, then they have to wait for three years for them to compete.

However, with 36 runners cleared in Rio, Tanui believes somebody is cashing in on the desperate athletes and exploiting them.

"It is happening at an alarming rate. Somebody somewhere is signing them out without any consideration.

"There are many more unknown stars in Kenya who could end up surprising us in other national colors if we don’t take control of what I call ‘human trafficking’," he said.

Ruth Jebet of Bahrain raised a storm when she won gold for her adopted country in Rio Olympics in the women 3,000m steeplechase race.

There is also Eunice Kirwa, who won the women marathon silver for Bahrain at Rio 2016 while Paul Kipkemoi Chelimo took the men 5000m silver for the USA.

"It is good for them to win, irrespective of the country they are running for.

"But what we are keen to look is the controversy surrounding their departures.

"How are these deals reached for them to represent their current nation," posed Tanui.

Already the late AK president Isaiah Kiplagat had been on the receiving end after he entered a deal with Qatar that saw the transfer of Saif Saeed Shaheen (Stephen Cherono) in 2003 and was given some kickbacks in return.

The late Kiplagat, together with suspended vice chairman David Okeyo and treasurer Joseph Kinyua are under the IAAF Ethics Committee watch for their involvement in the kit deal that saw Nike secure a 10-year deal to supply the country at the expense of Chinese apparel Li-Ning.

Bahrain’s Asian steeplechase record holder and world junior champion Ruth Chebet will be on the look out to surprise the Kenyans.

Others are Abraham Rotich (800 meters), Benson Theuri (1,500m); John Koech (3,000m steeplechase); Albert Rop (5,000m), Ruth Jebet (3,000m steeplechase) and marathoners Rose Chelimo, Eunice Kirwa and Eunice Chumba. They will all wear Bahrain colors.

Other countries that had athletes in Rio alongise Bahrain and Qatar are Azerbaijan, Turkey, USA, Canada, France and Israel.

The trend was set by Wilson Kipketer (Denmark) and Lorna Kiplagat (Netherlands) who pioneered the switch and made a name for their adopted country.

Ironically, majority of these athletes live, train and stay in Kenya and only go to Europe or USA when there are competitions.


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