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PAAK boss Kipsang, Korir give AK siege force

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PAAK chairman and celebrated marathoner, Wilson Kipsang (3rd right) and Cherangany MP, Wesley Korir (being hugged) at Riadha House on Tuesday, November 24, 2015. PHOTO/Alex Isaboke

PAAK chairman and celebrated marathoner, Wilson Kipsang (3rd right) and Cherangany MP, Wesley Korir (being hugged) at Riadha House on Tuesday, November 24, 2015. PHOTO/Alex Isaboke

NAIROBI, November 24- The lock down of Athletics Kenya (AK) Riadha House headquarters entered its second day Tuesday with the dispute heading to the Sports Ministry for a solution to the stand-off that has paralysed the federation’s operations.

Runners allied to Professional Athletics Association of Kenya (PAAK) who stormed the premises and ordered staff out on Monday morning; made good their threat and held an overnight vigil as their leaders flew from Eldoret to join them on Tuesday morning.

Two-time London Marathon champion and former world marathon record holder, Wilson Kipsang, who is PAAK’s chairman and Cherangany MP and 2012 Boston champion; Wesley Korir, arrived shortly after 9:30am to give the blockade the star-dust it lacked.

They rallied the exhausted 20 troops who held fort throughout the night to ensure Riadha House was still inaccessible with the numbers drastically dipping from over 50 that took over on day one.

Kipsang who won the New York Marathon last year and Olympics bronze in 2012 said they were heading to the ministry headquarters to find a solution before returning to the venue of the siege to address the press.

“Everybody knows I have been championing change. As athletes, we have suffered for a long time. This is the time we put the federation in order. AK does not even recognise us. Many are times I have come here and they don’t recognise me, so we need someone who will take care of our needs.

“We are staying strong until our demands are met,” Kipsang the London course record holder declared in defiance as his group cheered him on, stressing the AK Constitution of 2011 must be amended to formally recognise them.

-Forced apology-

Athletics Kenya vice-presidents, Paul Mutwii (foreground) and Lt. Gen (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei attempt to access Riadha House headquarters through a back gate on Monday following the blockade. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Athletics Kenya vice-presidents, Paul Mutwii (foreground) and Lt. Gen (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei attempt to access Riadha House headquarters through a back gate on Monday following the blockade. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Last week, AK were forced to issue an apology to Kipsang after he complained to world body, IAAF when they disclosed he had skipped a drug test that is contrary to the rules of confidentiality.

“We have just started and I thank you for standing to your ground,” the Cherangany MP told the runners who have upheld the blockade.

“I told AK and the Government that this will one day be a big problem. Now the day has come. We call all athletes who have not arrived here to hurry up and join us. Some are coming from Eldoret so today we must final a solution.

“We were not able to join you yesterday (Monday) since we were held up in Eldoret. Athletes have suffered a lot and it’s so unfortunate officials of AK have been benefiting themselves from our sweat and that’s why we say enough is enough.

“I hear some of them are saying the protesters are not athletes. I want to tell than that a runner is anyone who puts on a track suit and spikes it doesn’t necessarily have to be an elite athlete.

“So these are genuine athletes raising their concerns and we as active athletes support them fully,” Korir asserted.

Richard Yator; an active athlete who led the group to camp inside the building overnight told Capital Sport they would not allow any official in until their grievances are heard.

“We slept here and I want to thank the government for giving us three police officers to guard us through the night. We are not getting it of here.”

Speaking to BBC on Tuesday, AK president, Isaiah Kiplagat, declared he was consulting with authorities to end the occupation of their headquarters saying the siege was unlawful.

“What they have done is illegal and unacceptable,” he added urging PAAK to wait for elections if they are keen on running the sport.

Security forces have stood by and largely played an observer role with a number of PAAK members holding the building under lock and key are serving police officers of the regular and administration arms, including the chairman Kipsang.

The group on Monday placed the building under siege, locking out AK officials demanding change in the federation’s constitution, urgent action on the escalating doping menace, resignation of Kiplagat and Vice-president David Okeyo who are accused of siphoning Sh70m from AK’s coffers.

Kipsang and Korir were accompanied by PAAK Secretary General, Gilbert Kiplom.

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