GUIYANG, March 26- Guiyang 2015 was meant to be a dress rehearsal for Uganda to showcase their rich talent and organisational abilities ahead of the next edition in 2017 when they will welcome the world to Kampala as hosts.
However, their best laid plans took a major hit on Thursday when their most recognisable star, Moses Kipsiro, abandoned the team bus en-route to Lugogo to catch their flight out to China at Entebbe International Airport on Thursday.
Kipsiro, the men senior 12km silver medallist in 2009 and fourth in Bydgoszcz last time out was pencilled in for the IAAF Press Conference on Friday here in Guiyang but news filtered through he had abandoned ship at the last moment allegedly following death threats sent to his mobile phone by a woman.
“What we know is after being paid his allowances, he just took off,” Uganda’s media liaison officer, Norman Katende confirmed at a layover as the team set off for Guiyang minus their biggest star and three-time reigning Commonwealth Games distance champion.
The Ugandans who have a large contingent of officials to familiarise themselves with hosting the IAAF showpiece were due to arrive in Guiyang later Thursday night and will face stern questions from a shocked battery of international journalists as the news spread across the media tribune.
According to Associated Press, Kipsiro alleged receiving death threats on his mobile that ‘mentally tortured’ him.
Having won medals at the previous five editions, Uganda missed out on a medal in 2013, despite having two top-five finishers in the senior men’s race, Kipsiro and Timothy Toroitich who followed him across the tape.
Kipsiro won individual silver and bronze medals in 2009 and 2010 as well as team bronze medals in 2007 in Mombasa and 2011 in Punta Umbria.
His uneasy relationship with Ugandan athletics officials started last year when he exposed lurid claims against a top coach affiliated to the country’s police force who forced female runners to have sex with him to improve performance in races.
At the Ugandan Trials last month, Kipsiro who finished fourth to book his Guiyang ticket fought with police officers who wanted to apprehend his brother on what he claimed to be trumped up charges to revenge his expose.
It is reported Kipsiro, who held on to his 10000m title at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last year, accepted his overseas allowances before stepping out of the team bus and disappearing at the second attempt by Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF) officials to coax him back for the trip.
“It’s very sad since he has denied another runner the chance to compete for the nation,” a downcast UAF official said since it would have taken at least another three days to process the visa of a replacement.
-Mutwiri Mutuota is reporting from Guiyang, China/Picture by IAAF