NAIROBI, Kenya, January 17 – Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and Arts, Dr Hassan Wario has raised a red flag on embattled Athletics Kenya (AK), giving them ultimatum to put their house in order failure to which he would disband the federation.
Wario, who spoke during the 11th Sports Personality of the Year (SOYA) at KICC, said AK were to blame squarely for the increase in doping cases among Kenyan athletes with the latest case of top marathoner Rita Jeptoo, who test positive for taking the banned blood-boosting drug EPO, hogging global headlines.
“People like Jeptoo have now joined the other side of disgraced athletes like Marion Jones, and they belong to the hall of shame and not hall of fame. We must come out strongly as Kenyans and disassociate ourselves from people who want to spoil our sport by doping.
“Someone must take the blame, when all this was happening AK president Isaiah Kiplagat and the federation were very quiet. There is no athletics to talk of if we continue like this in-fact when I got a letter from AK I thought you guys had resigned like Mwangi Muthee did in Kenya Rugby Union,” said Wario amid clapping from a section of the gathering.
Wario added: “AK refused to cooperate with the Moni Wekesa led Task Force on Anti-doping and have been silent in acting when the walls have been collapsing in athletics.
“There is no meaningful change that can be done in doping if we don’t have a united and strong AK body. I’m giving them a very short time to put their houses in order for us to move forward.”
The minister said they will be getting rid of agents and coaches who operate in the country illegally who he accused of luring athletes into doping.
“Our patience in 2015 is overdue and we are going to sort you out. Time to act is now and if AK can’t act we will throw them out and get someone else to do the job.
“Kenya has never been short of talent but we have been very short of managers and those are the people who are letting down the youth. Some people think the federation belongs to them; the federations belongs to the people so if you have served 20 or 30 years it’s time to go,” he declared.
All federations including Football Kenya Federation and Kenya Rugby Union were given stern warning, urging them to run the associations professionally or decline to register them as required by the Sports Acts.
“The common thing in federations is mismanagement, they must be accountable and if not we will carry out the necessary measures against them and if that’s not enough we will disband them. 2015 is the year of the red card so watch out.”
Every speaker who stepped to the podium at the colourful SOYA gala night, condemned doping with former marathon record holder and International Olympics Committee Member (IOC), Paul Tergat advocating for fairness.
“Doping is the last thing I expected from Kenyan athletes. I urge them to avoid temptations and win clean.
“I’m disturbed by the endless wrangles that have hampered our federation throughout the year; I urge officials and administrators to re-think the legacy they will leave behind.
World 800m champion Eunice Sum who was voted the SOYA Sports Woman of the year said the doping menace has tainted the country’s image.
“I’m urging my colleagues to be very careful in what they are taking because it has demeaned our dignity since most people know Kenya as world beaters but they will doubt us now.” Sum urged.
-Safaricom to review their partnership-
The corporate sector was not left out in adding their voice on doping with Safaricom threatening to end their partnership with federations that don’t adhere to the ethics of sports.
“Sport is about the honourable victory, it’s not just by playing by the rules but by playing within the spirit of the rules. Sportsmen act ethically by demonstrating fairness, integrity, respect and responsibility.
“We continue to lead the world in athletics and rugby but our sports industry today is at risk of falling. As key stakeholders in the sector, we are concerned about the emerging cases of doping that has threatened our image,” Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore underscored.
“We need to be careful on how we conduct ourselves off the pitch in-terms of managing events, associations and how they are executed. It’s therefore very distressing we have so many reports of misconduct in the sector.
“As a result of these unforeseen events, Safaricom is reviewing partnership in the sport field with a view to ending any relationship that we feel is not 100 percent ethical and it is not negotiable.