Protesters at Athletics Kenya want Kiplagat and Okeyo out over graft

By: AYUMBA AYODI

Business came to a standstill at the usually busy Athletics Kenya headquarters, Riadha House, when some Professional Athletes Association of Kenya (PAAK) members stormed the premises on Tuesday at dawn.

Led by PAAK organising secretary Julius Ndegwa, the athletes demanded for the resignation of AK top officials Isaiah Kiplagat and David Okeyo for their alleged involvement in corruption.

They also called for the overhaul of the AK constitution to ensure active and retired athletes’ voice in the executive.

AK IMPROMPTU MEETING DISRUPTED

The siege scattered an impromptu AK executive committee meeting that was to be chaired by Kiplagat.

Sources said the meeting was called to counter another one slated for Wednesday that is to discuss, among other issues, the outgoing president’s send-off, corruption allegations and reports of doping in Kenya.

A source said Kiplagat could have garnered enough support to influence his return following his announcement in August that he had retired and handed over to Lt-Gen (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei.

During the 7.30am incident, the athletes sealed off the premises. They had not relented by press time.

“We reported to work only to find some people had invaded our offices,” said Tuwei, who sought the intervention of police. “We don’t know what they want.”

IMPLICATED IN GRAFT

Reading from a statement to local and international media, Ndegwa said: “Our travel, accommodation, allowances and prize money should be handled by a separate body to avoid a situation where AK has messed up with athletes’ purses.”

He called on the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Ethics Commission to hasten its investigations and take appropriate action against Kiplagat, AK secretary-general Okeyo and former AK treasurer Joseph Kinyua, who have been implicated in a Nike sponsorship fraud. They are said to have embezzled Sh70 million.

The trio was interrogated by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations early this year on this and other issues.

Flanked by Nairobi PAAK official Jacob Yator, Ndegwa said they were expecting PAAK president Wilson Kipsang and Wesley Korir to join them.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION