Athletics Athletics

Kiplagat slams IAAF over Cheruiyot Gala snub


NAIROBI, Kenya, November 15- The fallout over Saturday’s controversial decision to award Australia’s Sally Pearson the Female Athlete of the Year Award at the expense of Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot continued on Tuesday.

Athletics Kenya (AK) chair, Isaiah Kiplagat, who is also a Council Member of world governing body, IAAF lashed out at the criteria used to declare the Australian hurdler the winner while Cheruiyot, the World Cross and distance double world champion, missed out.

“We are all disappointed and the reason I was given when I asked that Vivian received 30 votes less than Pearson in the online voting is not enough. The purpose of the Sportsman or Sportswoman of the year is nothing else other than the performance,” Kiplagat charged.

“This is not a beauty pageant where the one with the best looks gets to win. Neither should they use online voting as a reason since it is quite clear that Africans are not on the same level in the usage of the internet. The selection needs to be changed,” he added.

On Monday, AK said they would reward Cheruiyot adequately at their own gala on December 2 but the chair said that would not be enough to address what he called the sham that happened in Monaco on Saturday night.

“Even Pearson admitted Cheruiyot should have won it. Everyone there thought the same and to have any other outcome does not reflect the true nature of the awards. Like a football referee, the decision is final but we have petitioned to have the whole process re-looked,” the chair added.

The federation were keen to have Cheruiyot, who added the women 5000m and 10,000m titles in Daegu, South Korea to the senior women 8km World Cross title she won in Punta Umbria in March in a stellar season that saw her retain her 5,000m/3,000m Diamond League crown unbeaten.

“She also ran the fastest times in 3,000m and 5,000m this year and I do not see what more an athlete needs to do to be considered worthy of the award,” Kiplagat stormed.

The decision at the Gala caused the entire Kenyan contingent to walk out of the dinner last Saturday as they sought to comprehend only what had appeared to be an obvious verdict gone wrong.

“It was very difficult for us and as a nation that has contributed to the sport in such a big way, that was a wrong message from IAAF.”

Since her return, Cheruiyot has chosen to remain tight-lipped over the manner as she embarks on preparing for a double Olympics assault in London next year.

“If she does that, maybe they will see it worthy of the award.”

Nonetheless, IAAF cited Cheruiyot for her double winning act at the Worlds by giving her the consolation Female Performance of the Year Award.