NAIROBI, Kenya, February 2 – Retired and current athletes led by 2008 Beijing Olympics 800m champion Wilfred Bungei have on Monday called for a boycott of the February 14 National Cross Country championships cum World Cross Country Trials if the Government does not move in to remove long-serving Athletics Kenya (AK) chairman, Isaiah Kiplagat from office.
The group that included 1988 Olympics 5000m and five-time World Cross champion, John Ngugi, former three-time World Half Marathon titleholder, Shem Kororia and representatives from Professional Athletes Association of Kenya (PAAK) also demanded a comprehensive list of those involved in positive doping cases from 2009 including the high profile EPO bust of female marathon star, Rita Jeptoo, to be made public.
Other issues they want addressed within the week include claims of deductions of athlete’s prize money from last year’s Bahamas World Relay Championships as well as local events, an overhaul of the AK constitution, national team selection criteria and mismanagement at the federation headquarters.
“As retired and current athletes we feel we have been pushed so much and it’s high time we ask the ministry of Sports, Culture and Arts to intervene or else we are going to down the spikes especially at the Cross Country Trials.
“AK has done nothing to improve athletics in the country since the same problems we found when joining the industry are the same, this time round we will not allow it to continue,” Bungei, the 2006 Moscow World Indoor Champion announced.
The captain of the most successful Olympics team in the country’s history called on Sports, Culture and Arts Cabinet Secretary Dr. Hassan Wario to follow up his tough talking on Kiplagat to vacate office with action.
“We are beseeching the minister to take the lead and act not to be like his predecessors. Kiplagat is not bigger that the country because at the moment it’s a one man show,” Bungei added.
“Kiplagat was given an ultimatum by the minister to put his house in order but he has failed to do so and as PAAK we have decided that it’s rather Kiplagat participate in the coming trials if our grievances are not met,” PAAK National Organising Secretary Julius Ndegwa declared.
“We are giving an ultimatum to all branch chairmen to hold their teams until AK met our conditions. I’m asking the CEO, Isaac Mwangi not to pay for any venue because there will be no event on that day,” Ndegwa stated.
Bungei who was not pleased with the way AK handled Jeptoo’s dope case said doping should be criminalized and those responsible in supplying the banned substances should be held responsible.
“In the past two weeks we have had big issues to do with doping, investigation on Jeptoo’s case has been done and the verdict is out but the question we are asking is that who was involved and why are they not apprehended.
“We believe, if Jeptoo tested positive for EPO then there must be someone behind it. Why is he or she not in jail and that’s why we are saying it’s better to criminalize doping and those responsible to bear the consequences.
Other retired athletes who were present include, Steven Cheptot, Joel Sankale, Ruth Waithera, Wilfred Oanda Kirochi, Joel Onwong’a , Joshua Chelang’a, Peter Kianga and former 1500m junior champion Atoi Boru.
Those who sent their apologies include, former world marathon record holder Paul Tergat, former 5000m world champion Daniel Komen, former 800m champion Billy Konchellah, Sammy Kosgei, Stephen Olemorai, reigning Sports Personality of the Year Awards winner Caleb Mwangangi Ndiku and World Indoor silver medallist Hellen Obiri.
The national championships which will be used to select the Kenyan team for the world cross country championships in Guiyang, China is scheduled to take place in a fortnight at Nairobi’s Uhuru Gardens.