NAIROBI: Over 60 Kenyan athletes on Monday stormed the offices of Athletics Kenya (AK) offices to demand officials accused of corruption be sacked and for doping allegations to be properly investigated.
The athletes, chanting and carrying placards, took over AK offices in Nairobi, barricading themselves inside shortly after dawn and before officials arrived for work.
“We are not leaving this place until our grievances have been heard and addressed,” Julius Ndegwa, the organising secretary of the Professional Athletes Association of Kenya (PAAK) told reporters.
“We want to solve the long standing issues affecting us in regards to corruption, doping and other matters.”
A report in a British newspaper, The Sunday Times, last week suggested that AK vice president, David Okeyo, who is also Kenya’s IAAF council member, was among three Kenyan athletics officials who allegedly siphoned $700,000 (650,000 euros) from money paid to AK as part of a sponsorship deal.
It said Okeyo, AK chairman Isaiah Kiplagat and former treasurer Joseph Kinyua had been questioned by police in Kenya amid accusations that they paid themselves, mostly in cash, from the national federation’s bank account.
Okeyo has denied any wrong-doing, while the others are yet to comment.
“Corruption has been active in this office, the officials have not been taking this issue of doping seriously and they have to be removed,” Ndegwa said. “We are demanding the officials be removed with immediate effect and action taken against them.”
There was no immediate response from AK officials.
Ndegwa said the athletes had also been humiliated” and said AK had not acted investigated properly reports of doping.
Many in Kenya fear doping is rife among their top class athletes, runners who have been the source of enormous national pride.
More than 30 Kenyan athletes have been suspended and five more banned since 2012 after testing positive for banned performance-enhancing drugs.