Kenya probes three athletes who changed nationality

Kenya’s athletics officials said Saturday they have launched investigations on three local athletes who changed nationality to become citizens of Kazakhstan.

Athletics Kenya (AK) President, Jack Tuwei said the association will probe the circumstances under which the trio deserted their training camp in Iten town, the cradle of Kenya’s athletics and switched allegiance to the Central Asian country.

“The runners are still minors who need guidance from their seniors. We will delve into the matter and any coach or manager who shall be found culpable of assisting them to translocate will have action taken against them according to the laws of the land,” the president said during the National Athletics Cross Country Championships held in Nairobi.

“Whereas it is not an offence to change nationality, those who wish to do so must follow the right procedures, which the three runners did not,” he noted.

Kenyan athletes switch allegiance to run for other countries and regions due to reasons that range from financial constraints, lack of recognition in their home country and high competition in the athletics-mad East African nation.

Over 40 Kenyan runners decamped to other countries and regions and during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games with 20 ‘defectors’ competing against their Kenyan counterparts in track and field events.

During the quadrennial global competition, Ruth Jebet won the gold medal for Bahrain in 3,000m women’s steeplechase race in a time of 8:58.81 and missed the world record by a small margin.

However, she smashed the eight-year old world record 12 days later during a Diamond League race in Paris.

During the cross country event, Kenya selected a team of 30 runners to represent the country at the 5th Africa Cross Country Championships scheduled for Mar.17 in Chlef, Algeria.

During the athletics meet Tuwei said that any athlete, coach or manager who will be caught engaging in the doping menace will forever be banned from any activity related to the sport in the country.

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