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Gebrselassie ‘honored’ to head Ethiopia Athletics Federation

Haile Gebrselassie is a 10,000m double Olympic gold medallist and multiple marathon champion © AFP/File / Jenny Vaughan

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 7Retired running legend Haile Gebrselassie has been elected president of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation.

The 43-year-old sports star, considered one of the greatest distance runners of all time, will serve a four-year term, with local media reporting he won nine of the 15 votes to secure the presidency.

“I feel so honoured to be elected president of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation! Will work on a great future for Ethiopian athletics!” the runner wrote on Twitter late Saturday.

Gebrselassie had been a vocal critic of the Ethiopian federation, accusing its leaders of “incompetence” in preparing the Rio Olympics.

The former champion — a 10,000m double Olympic gold medallist and multiple marathon champ — took part in a demonstration against the federation’s selection criteria and its decision to drop triple Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele from the team.

Ethiopia went on to win just eight medals at Rio, including only one gold for Almaz Ayana in the women’s 10,000m, and placed 44th in the country rankings, far behind Kenya its neighbour and historic rival.

Gebrselassie subsequently called on the federation leadership to resign, saying he was willing to “share his experience” and help Ethiopia to prepare for the upcoming IAAF World Championships in Athletics in London in 2017 and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

The Ethiopian Athletics Federation is also facing several cases of alleged doping among its athletes with at least five distance runners testing positive and being investigated for using meldonium, the same substance that earned tennis player Maria Sharapova a two-year suspension.

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