Voice of Sport

Tuwei stance against Minister: AK boss who will rely on Govt to host world event wants to have his cake and eat it

Will dust kicked off by Athletics Kenya [AK] operatives jeorpardise Kenya’s hosting of the Under-18 World [Athletics] Championships in July next year


THE disgraced Athletics Kenya [AK], reeling under international sanctions over allegations of athletes doping cover-ups and theft of sponsorship money launched more domestic wrangles on Wednesday when its head appeared to issue ultimatums to the Kenya minister in charge of sport.

The AK chief, retired Army general Jackson Tuwei told the Government Cabinet Secretary for Sport, Culture and the Arts, Dr Hassan Wario, that he should have consulted him [Tuwei] during the appointment of a key official in the local organising committee [LOC] for the IAAF [International Amateur Athletic Federation] Under-18 World Championships Kenya are set to host in July 2017.

Sanctions

This is when AK’s current top priority is to resolve issues of doping accusations threatening to include the country in the same block with Russia suffering a total ban from IAAF activities including the upcoming Olympic Games. The IAAF sanctions have decimated the management of an AK executive of which Tuwei is long time vice-chairman, sending home chairman Isaiah Kiplagat, vice-chairman David Okeyo, treasurer Joseph Kinyua and chief executive officer Isaac Mwangi.

Any hopes of a credible organisation to steer the world championships that will bring together 156 countries to Kenya for its largest ever event lies with the Government. In fact, the remaining support for AK’s right to host the U-18 World Championships mainly comes from the IAAF vice-president, Hamad Kalkaba Malboum — who is also the African athletics body boss — who was recently in Kenya and only backed the country after assurances of total Government support conveyed to him by Dr Wario.

Venue switch

Malboum promised Kenya’s support at the IAAF, albeit with the caveat that the organisation must put its house in order. An IAAF switch of the championships from Kenya is not a far-fetched possibility if the atmosphere in Kenya does not improve.

It was a surprise on Wednesday when Tuwei gathered countrywide delegates of AK to declare that only retired and active athletes should be appointed to the local organizing committee. “We want one of our own… this is a new era in athletics…” Tuwei was quoted by Thursday editions newspapers.

Ex-athletes

But LOC gazetted as early as May 2015 did in fact have ex-Kenya athletes holding key positions, including marathon icons Ibrahim Hussein Kipkemboi and Douglas Wakiihuri and AK officials including Tuwei as chairman, Jinaro Kibet at vice-chairman, another vice-chairman David Okeyo (now suspended) and Fatma Awale an AK executive committee member.

Amid what is clearly AK’s petty domestic maneuvers, AK operatives fail to realise that the World Championships is not strictly and solely an AK affair. Most key is that the hosting institution [HI] is the Kenya Government . The IAAF granting of hosting rights is clearly stipulated that the championships rely on four key pillars namely:

  1. The IAAF – as the event owner [OW] of the World Athletics Series (WAS) event
  2. Organising Member (OM) – Athletics Kenya
  3. Host Institution (HI) – Kenya Government
  4. Host City – the authority is the Nairobi City County Government

Crucial support

The biggest challenge lies with the Government to whom a Sh2.9 billion budget has been presented by the Tuwei-led LOC. For Tuwei to be trading unsavoury words with the Minister is like biting the hand that will feed the LOC.

The Government appointed Steering Committee which will drive the state policy, provide funding and a lot of other crucial support has already been gazetted and Tuwei indeed sits on that committee which includes:

–  Cabinet Secretary Sports Culture and Arts (Dr Hassan Wario)

–  Principal Secretary Sports, Culture and Arts (Amb Richard Ekai)

–  Deputy Governor, Nairobi County (Jonathan Mueke)

– Chairman, Sports Kenya (Fred Muteti)

– President, Athletics Kenya (Gen, Rtd, Jackson Tuwei)

–  Chairman, National Olympic Committee of Kenya – NOCK (Dr Kipchoge Keino)

–  Chairman, IAAF U18 World Championships Local Organising Committee (Gen, Rtd, Jackson Tuwei)

–  Chief Executive Officer LOC  (Mwangi Muthee)

–  Kenya Private Sector Alliance – KEPSA representative (Carol Kariuki)

–   National Treasury representative  (Eunice Kigen)

Expertise network

However, long before the event takes place in Nairobi, the preparations will heavily rely on technical delegates seconded by IAAF to Nairobi who will obviously draw input from AK’s network of technical expertise.

Meanwhile, an IAAF ban of Kenya from international competition including the Olympics still looms because the country appeared unable to meet the world body’s April 5 deadline to be compliant with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code.

A Kenyan bill in parliament for the set-up of the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya [ADAK] was introduced to house on Wednesday and with house being busy with other matters on Thursday there may be no further debate before the legislators go on recess on Friday. They return on April 11, well past the WADA deadline.