CS Wario: Kenyans have lost confidence in AK leadership

Sports, Arts and Culture Cabinet Secretary Dr Wario at Nyayo National Stadium

Sports Cabinet Secretary Dr. Hassan Wario on Wednesday declared Kenyans had lost faith in the leadership of Athletics Kenya (AK) saying it was time for free and fair elections to be held at the federation to usher in a new team that the Government could work with to develop the sport.

In a harsh indictment delivered to the face of AK President, Lt. Gen (Rtd.) Jack Tuwei on the set of Citizen TV’s morning show, Cheche, Wario blamed long-serving leaders and archaic structures at the federation for incubating the doping crisis that has seen the country threatened with expulsion from international competition.

Wario and Tuwei blamed each other’s docket for the escalating substance abuse problem that has seen 43 Kenyan runners banned for doping violations with the danger of missing out on the Rio 2016 Olympics still looming large over the country’s track and field team.

The pair also clashed over corruption claims that has seen four senior AK officials suspended by the IAAF Ethics Board, the latest being federation CEO Isaac Mwangi, who was accused of soliciting bribes from two female sprinters to reduce their bans after they tested positive for furomiside at the Beijing World Championships.

In November, AK president, Isaiah Kiplagat, vice-president and IAAF Council member, David Okeyo and former treasurer, David Okeyo were also suspended for 180 days for charges ranging from subverting the anti-doping process and diverting sponsorship funds from US sports apparel giant, Nike.

“One of the major problems with federations is people staying there for 30 years or 40 years without putting proper structures, with very little transparency. There is a point where you stop Government intervention.

“For instance, Nike deals don’t pass through any Government agency, we don’t know, it’s shrouded in secrecy, everything is done behind us. What we are asking for through the Registrar (of Societies).

“We need federations like AK to open all their doors so that Kenyans know what is coming in, what is going out and how much has been spent and so on,” Wario charged after interjecting Tuwei’s stoic defense against claims of the federation’s involvement in financial impropriety and undermining the anti-doping process.

“Equally, we had a big problem when we had a task force looking at issues on doping, AK was non-cooperative. It’s written in the report, AK refused to see (the Professor Moni Wekesa led) that AK refused to see the team several times.

“If AK is an interested party in improvement of athletics in this country, why are they stopping a committee that is fact finding, which is trying to see what the problem is and how we can work together?  As a Government, we insist where we are now with a federation like AK, a lot of damage has been done.

“Probably the way out of this is a very free and fair election so that we get a new team of people on board and we engage with them. Kenyans have lost faith in what is going on in that federation as it is now,” Wario added in stinging condemnation of the current leadership at the helm of Riadha House.

-Constitution is clear-

“Our Constitution is very clear, except now that the Sports Act has come up with new developments which we are now working on compliance.

“But before that, the constitution allowed that whenever you are voted in by the members then you continue and that is exactly what happened and I don’t think we went outside the Constitution, I don’t think it was illegal. Now, we have been restricted to certain limitation of time,” Tuwei said in response to over-staying in office, having served in various capacities within the federation for 17 years before he took over from Kiplagat, who had led AK for 23 uninterrupted years, upon his suspension.

On AK refusing to cooperate with the Government appointed National Taskforce of Anti-Doping that gave the framework of the formation of Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya, the retired Army chief absolved federation.

“According to the report I read, it was only one person that did not cooperate and he is saying it’s not true… before Wario cut in saying, “There was no AK at the launch of the report, completely, we were ignored by the AK… Its written here (Wario displaying the report), AK was not present.”

“I was not invited myself and I cannot say for sure but I know, AK was invited and one person did not attend, the President of AK, but David Okeyo attended this session and he was the vice-president,” the retired lieutenant general fired back.

“According to our Constitution, elections are done every four year and we did our last elections in 2013 so the next ones are in 2017, next year,” Tuwei said of the polls.

“AK has done everything possible that could have been done. In our Constitution, one of the key elements is the Medical and Anti-Doping Commission. All the athletes that are listed there, having been cautioned or banned, went through the commission; we followed the anti-doping rules, we followed the rules and regulations the IAAF and WADA rules.

“Everyone who has mentioned has to go through that commission. That commission is chaired by a doctor because it is a medical issue,” the interim AK boss claimed.

“All the 43 mentioned here have gone through AK; they have gone through the Commission, we are in touch with the IAAF, we cannot announce any caution unless IAAF have approved and given the go ahead,” Tuwei stated.

“I think there is a structural failure within AK, it’s very clear. Kenya has been a sporting powerhouse since the 1960s. We should have inherited a structure that is IAAF and WADA compliant. We inherited none, we started from zero.

“We found our way through just by accident if you want; we were guided by Chinada and Anti-Doping Norway with very little assistance from AK.

“What is happening now is that there is a lot of confidence with the Government and I went to see the IAAF President and that is what he alluded to me just before the suspension of this top official that he had lost confidence with AK and asked me to work together to crack the whip,” the Cabinet Secretary further tore into the federation.

He accused the officials of taking this matter ‘lightly’ saying the mandate to deal with doping had been taken from AK and vested in ADAK.

“There are young recently retired athletes who can be in office,” Wario quipped in a broadside to the sitting officials.

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Story By Mutwiri Mutuota
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