Allegations of corruption and bribery levied Kenyan officials
Kenyans call for resignation of Minister of sports
Reports that uniforms for opening ceremony were misappropriated
The Olympic Games may be over, but the drama continues for Kenyan athletics. Amid allegations ranging from disorganization to corruption and bribery by Kenyan officials during the Rio Olympics, Kenyan athletics faces another controversy to add to the list.
On Saturday, police raided the offices of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya to find dozens of boxes of team uniforms made by Nike, clothing intended for athletes to wear during the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics, according to reports by AFP. Officials are now investigating the incident and several Olympic officials have been arrested and questioned over the misappropriated clothing. The police and Ministry of Sports have refused to comment about the case.
The Kenyan team’s appearance had raised eyebrows when the team wore mismatched clothing during the opening ceremony. Athletes complained they did not receive adequate kit. Local media alleged some officials may have stolen and then sold the gear.
Kenya is home to many of the world’s fastest long-distance runners. Yet despite its best Olympic showing in history, with 13 medals and 15th place overall, Kenya’s Rio achievements are now competing for attention with its officials’ Olympic-sized mismanagement.
Staying in a Favela
After the Olympics closing ceremony, Kenya’s team captain Wesley Korir – who is also a member of parliament – remained in Rio last week and tweeted a picture on Wednesday showing a street with an abandoned car. The Favela was where they stayed, complete with gunshots, according to Korir.
“Unbelievable this is where the rest of Kenyan team will spend their night today, after Olympic village is closed!” Korir tweeted. He says the government was waiting for cheaper flights back home to Kenya.
“The best team in Africa and the second best all over the world in athletics and this is how they treat us,” he wrote in another tweet.
“We didn’t sleep because of gunshots all night, mosquitos everywhere,” Korir told CNN the night after he spent the night in the favela. “I call on the president to take action on those that put the lives of these Kenyan ambassadors at risk.”
For some Kenyans the treatment of the remaining team was the last straw, and many pushed for the resignation of the Sports Minister, with the hashtag #WarioMustGo trending.
Following the social media firestorm, on August 25 Kenya’s Sports Minister Hassan Wario announced he was disbanding the National Olympic Committee of Kenya and investigating the claims of mismanagement at the Games, promising to “make the culprits face the full force of the law.”
When faced with allegations of misappropriated kit and mismanagement, National Olympic Committee of Kenya Chairman Kipchoge Keino told CNN he was unable to comment as the investigation is ongoing.
Kenya’s Sports Ministry also said it could not comment on allegations due to the ongoing investigation. Police would not respond to requests for comment.
A controversial Olympics
Poor treatment of athletes had been a point of public concern from the beginning of the Games.
Javelin thrower Julius Yego arrived at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, ready to fly to Rio, only to find that he didn’t have a ticket. He was permitted on board after several ticketed team members protested, refusing to leave unless Yego was allowed to travel with them.
To make matters worse, two top coaches were sent home from the Olympics amid controversy over doping allegations.
Team manager Michael Rotich left the games after a video surfaced from an undercover investigation by the Sunday Times and German Broadcaster ARD/WDR, which allegedly showed him soliciting $10,000 in exchange for a promise that he would notify an athlete of an upcoming doping test.
According to Reuters, he’s being held for four weeks of investigation, with his request for bail denied by a Kenyan court.
Controversy continued and days later coach John Anzrah – a former sprinter – was sent home after he allegedly posed as an 800m runner, using the identification of runner Ferguson Rotich to enter the Olympic Village. Officials said he gave a urine sample for a test. Anzrah denied he ever gave a urine sample, a claim since supported by the IOC. He said he used Rotich’s card to get free breakfast, as the coaches were forced to cook for themselves. Anzrah has not been sanctioned.
Rotich later gave his own urine sample and was cleared to compete.
Kenya’s troubles, however, began before the Rio Olympics.
Since the London 2012 Olympics, some 40 Kenyan athletes have failed doping tests. Several top officials from its governing body were suspended in recent months after allegations they sought bribes from athletes to cover up positive doping results.
Kenya missed two World Anti-Doping Agency deadlines to show it was tackling doping, before athletes were finally cleared to compete in the Rio Games.