Kenyan Athletes Who Renounced Citizenship & Now Making Millions Abroad

Kenyan Athletes Who Renounced Citizenship & Now Making Millions Abroad
Kenyan Athletes Who Renounced Citizenship & Now Making Millions Abroad

Kenya has had a number of athletes who decided to renounce their citizenship to end up making millions and growing wealthy in their second home countries.

The jury is out on whether denouncing Kenyan citizenship in search of greener pastures for athletes and others amounts to betrayal., takes a look at some of these athletes and some of the deals offered to them before switching citizenship.

Stephen Cherono

Until the age of 20 years old, Stephen Cherono was a Kenyan athlete. Then overnight, he received a lucrative deal that he could not turn down. Kenya had lost a star who had recorded the world’s fastest time in both the steeplechase and the 5,000m. The idea of him acquiring new citizenship came in 2003.

Cherono was reportedly offered a sweet deal including a Ksh112,300 monthly stipend for life just for him to become a Qatari athlete. He accepted the deal, even changed his name to Saif Saeed Shaheen.

Cherono was one of ten siblings – six boys and four girls born in a family of farmers all of whom lived in Iten, Elgeyo-Marakwet County. He has since ended up winning several races and putting Qatar on the map.

Bernard Lagat

Bernard Kipchirchir Lagat was born in Kenya and had a successful career before he decided to acquire US citizenship. He represented the country between 2000-2004.  His first outing was during the 2000 summer Olympics in Sydney Australia. That year, Lagat was ranked overall top three in the world in the 1500m race.

At the 2004 IAAF, World Indoor Championships, Lagat won his first international gold medal.

In March 2005, Lagat shocked the nation when he announced that he had become a US citizen.  At the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Lagat become the first world champion in both  1,500 m and 5,000 m at the same IAAF World Outdoor games.

In 2008, he participated in the Summer Olympics in Beijing China. From 2010 Lagat continued to win more races becoming among the most coveted athletes in the US.

Lornah Kiplagat

Lornah Kiplagat who was born in Kabiemit, Nandi County, acquired her Dutch citizenship in 2003. She left the country when athletics was gaining fame and momentum making headlines in the international arena.

Before she moved to the Netherlands, she had a stellar career for Kenya as was the first woman to win both the Falmouth Road Race and the Peachtree Road Race.

But her glory continued in the Netherlands where she lowered the country’s marathon record to 2:23.43 during the New York City Marathon. She also participated in the 2004 Summer Olympics, where she finished 5th in the 10,000m.

In 2005, she was even crowned as Dutch athlete of the year. This followed her great achievements. She won a silver medal at the 2005 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships then took the title at the 2005 European Cross Country Championships.

Lornah currently is the founder of African inspired Sports brand for active women called “Lornah “ She is also the founder of the famous High Altitude Training Centre (HATC) in Iten Kenya, where athletes from all over the World go train.

Anne Wafula

Anne Wafula Strike is living one of the most accomplished lifestyles ever since she acquired her United Kingdom citizenship.

Despite becoming disabled at an early age, Wafula continued pushing and in 2006, she became a British citizen. That allowed her to join Team GB and kick-started a professional career as a full-time athlete.

In 2014, Wafula was awarded the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her services to disability sport and charity work by the Queen.

She was won other accolades all over the world. Just in October this year, Wafula was among the athletes feted in the UK to mark Black History Month.

Right now she runs several initiatives that impact lives all over the world.

Ruth Jebet

She was among the youngest athletes to switch citizenship.  Jebet, having been born in 1996, took the opportunity to run for Bahrain at the age of sixteen, switching her citizenship in February 2013.

In 2014, still only 17, she won the World Junior Championship ahead of two other Kenyan girls. This sparked heated debate in the country.

But she did not stop at that. In the 2016 Olympics games, Jebet was a  gold medalist in the 3,000 meters steeplechase, both achieved before turning 20.

However, things did not go on well after that as she was suspended in 2018 with allegations of doping threatening to end her career with Bahrain.

Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa

Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa also adds up to the list of athletes who renounced their citizenship for greener pastures.  Having been born in 1984, Eunice switched citizenship in 2013. She became a Bahraini long-distance runner.

At the start of her career, she represented Kenya at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Athletics over 1500 meters.

She was the silver medalist in the marathon at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. However, just like Jebet, she suffered a setback in her career after she was suspended in 2019 for allegations of doping.

The cases of athletes switching citizenship continued in the early 2000s prompting the government to tighten rules.

Janeth Jepkosgei Busienei famously known as Eldoret Express failed in her bid to switch citizenship. During her interview with a local media station, she stated that her papers were torn and her bid turned down.

“Kiplagat was like my father and when I told him that I was shifting to Bahrain, he took my papers and tore them. He then asked me to continue training hard for the next event which was Commonwealth Games in 2006,” she stated during her past interview.

The latest athlete to renounce her Kenyan citizenship is Caroline Chepkoech, to represent Kazakhstan.


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Kenyan Athletes Who Renounced Citizenship & Now Making Millions Abroad

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