NAIROBI, April 14- Former world champion and retired distance running legend Moses Tanui has read mischief in the change of guard at Athletics Kenya (AK) that coincided with the federation suspending two top management firms that handle the biggest chunk of the country’s star athletes.
Speaking in Eldoret on Tuesday, Tanui a two-time winner of Boston Marathon faulted federation president, Isaiah Kiplagat for appointing retired Lieutenant General Jackson Tuwei as the interim leader when he takes a three-month sabbatical leave for contravening the AK constitution.
“Kiplagat made a big mistake to appoint Tuwei in acting capacity. The bona fide person to take over was David Okeyo, who is second in command and not Tuwei,” Tanui said.
Okeyo polled the most votes in the elections for vice-president ahead of Paul Mutwii who was named the senior deputy leader in the reconstituted Executive Committee with Tuwei third.
“Many managers and coaches are preparing their teams for IAAF World Championships; therefore, the move to suspend them was in bad faith.
“Though I don’t support doping and manipulation of athletes as claimed by Kiplagat, the suspects should have been given a chance to defend themselves in the interests of fairness and justice.
“Suspending them now will only interfere with programmes that could destabilise the athletes,” the 1991 world champion in 10,000m added.
He was reacting to the six-month suspension slapped on Rosa Associati and Volare Sports by the federation on Monday to give room for investigations into doping allegations surrounding the camp where Kiplagat announced he would step down to vie for the IAAF vice-presidency at the same time.
Tanui, now a keen handicap golfer and entrepreneur said the top athletes managed by the firms entered for spring World Marathon Major races and the IAAF Diamond League series will suffer.
“It was the worst mistake our federation did by suspending the mangers without giving them audience,” he decried.
“Definitely it will affect selection since most of the potential athletes might not compete in such races because it will be hard for AK to enter them in the races,” the 10,000m Olympics silver medallist of 1992 offered on selection of marathoners for the World Championships in Beijing.
AK often uses top performances at Boston, London majors or IAAF gold label races of Amsterdam and Paris to decide their squads for Worlds and Olympics competitions in the absence of trial races for the marathon.
Tanui has been a vocal critic of Kiplagat and AK in their management of the sport and handling the doping scourge as Kenya reels from a sharp spike in positive cases with 36 athletes among them star female marathoner, Rita Jeptoo banned.
At the height of his prowess on the track, he once struck Ethiopian legend, Haile Gebrsellasie with a running shoe at the Barcelona Olympics 10,000m when he felt the champion impeded him unfairly on the homestretch in one of the most iconic images of the Games.
-By Emmanuel Sabuni