NAIROBI, February 25 – “Until you sort yourselves out, you will not hear anything from me or other sponsors,” this is the terse message integrated communication services provider, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore sent to warring federations in the country interested in extending their begging bowls to the firm.
Collymore who was speaking on Wednesday when launching the 16th Safaricom Lewa Marathon, categorically said all sponsors met with Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Arts and Culture, Hassan Wario and agreed to pull out from federations embroiled by wrangles.
“What we are seeing now across the federations is lack of ethics and integrity whether its wrangles, corruption or doping and unless they resolve the issues we will not waste our money in them.
“I do so much to protect my shareholder’s money but I can’t afford to give that to federations who squander and steal it,” Collymore whose firm sponsors Safari International Sevens, Athletics Kenya Relay Series and many other road races declared.
The CEO was disappointed by the increase cases of doping in the country that recently saw top female marathoner Rita Jeptoo banned for two years after testing positive for using blood booster EPO.
“It’s such a big let down to moral athletes like David Rudisha who are clean when modern sportsmen get involved in doping.”
Athletics Kenya, Kenya Rugby Union and Football Kenya Federation are some federations embroiled by infighting or feuds.
Lewa Marathon race director, Sarah Watson said the course remains unchanged despite Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Borana merging.
“We tried changing the course but people complained but we might consider making adjustments next year since there are hills in Borana that will make the marathon challenging,” Watson said.
Registration opened Wednesday with participants in the 42km entering with Sh15, 000 (USD 164) while 21km that will feature a minimum of five runners will register at Sh150, 000 (USD 1,600).
Winners of both full and half marathon races will receive Sh150,000 (USD 1,600) in each category.
The race is targeting 1,200 entries from over 20 different countries around the world with Watson saying they had to limit the number due to security concerns.
The event that will see participants run in the wild is used raise funds for wildlife protection and supporting community projects around the conservancy.
Last year, the marathon collected over Sh58m (USD 634,735) which was the highest amount to be raised since its inception.
This year’s event that adopted ‘Run for a good course’ as the theme will run June 27 at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.
Three-peat winner, Philemon Baaru and Fridah Lodepa are the reigning champions.