NAIROBI, Kenya, February 17 –Retired and active athletes led by two time Boston champion Moses Tanui and former marathon world record holder Wilson Kipsang have ramped up the pressure on Athletics Kenya (AK) president Isaiah Kiplagat by urging the Government to disband the federation executive for failing to end stem wrangles.
The 15 runners who also included former two-time world 800m champion Billy Kinchellah tabled their concerns to Cabinet Secretary for Sports Dr Hassan Wario, whom they requested to form an interim committee to run the sport at his office in Nairobi.
“We have put our issues on the table and the minister is having a look at them. We still have a court case going on and the decision is due this month so we want to take step by step to make sure what we are doing is correct.
“Our main goal is to replace AK officials and I believe we have Olympians, World champions and record holders who are capable or even doing better than them. We are calling for the whole executive to be disbanded,” said Konchellah who won the 1989 and 1991 world 800m titles.
Kipsang who is the president of Professional Athletes Association of Kenya (PAAK) said they are ready to bring change to the most successful federation in the country since AK top brass has failed to embrace dialogue.
“Those who are affected are the athletes and when that office is not in order; we athletes so if the issues are not addressed, then it will be difficult for runners to represent the country well.
“We are ready to push forward for change through our new association because we know where the problem is. AK’s constitution locks out retired and active athletes from expressing their views and there is no way we can air our grievances,” Kipsang who won Sh45.7m (USD500, 000) World Majors Bonus last year on the back of his London and New York Marathon victories expressed.
Speaking after a five hour meeting at the minister’s office in Nairobi, retied athlete’s chairman Tanui, said the meeting was fruitful.
“This is a long process and we have just started, this is our first meeting with the minister who has promised to help us out. We must put things straight and as stakeholders we are advocating for change.”
Among the grievances they wanted addressed is doping where they claimed AK seems not to take seriously confirmed cases of drug cheating.
The athletes also complained of allowances and prize money, citing the recent case at last year’s world relay championships in Bahamas where they alleged the prize money was deducted.
Their other concern was lack of proper kit during major championships, team selections and composition of the Executive Committee office which they said had no athlete representative.
Other former world beaters who attended the meeting are 1987 world marathon champion Douglas Wakiihuri, 1988 5000m Olympic champion John Ngugi, 2008 Beijing 800m Olympic champion Wilfred Bungei, Daniel Komen (world champion 1997 Athens), Shem Kororia, Stephene Ole Marai, Mwangi Mutua, Edwin Koech, Joshua Chelang’a, Ruth Waithera, Atori Boru, William Tanui, Justin Jepchirchir and Tecla Sang.
Kiplagat has come under fire from athletes and 14 AK branch affiliate chairmen who want him step down from the seat he has held for over five terms.