Three top Kenyan Olympic officials arrested in Nairobi as part of Rio de Janeiro probe

Francis Paul, secretary general of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK), as well as James Chacha and Stephen Arap Soi were taken into custody on their return from Brazil as part of an ongoing investigation

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 August, 2016, 6:04pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 August, 2016, 6:06pm

Three top officials of Kenya’s Olympic committee have been arrested in Nairobi as investigators dig into a series of scandals and embarrassments at the Rio de Janeiro Games, police sources said.

Francis Paul, secretary general of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK), was arrested on Friday, one of the police sources said on condition of anonymity.

His deputy James Chacha and Stephen Arap Soi, who headed the Kenyan delegation to Rio, were both arrested at Nairobi airport just as they returned from Brazil, he added.

The arrests are “part of the investigation into the Rio scandal, and the poor management of the team for the entirety of the Games,” he said.

Another police source said the men are being held at a police station in Nairobi, and that they are due to be charged on Monday for their chaotic management and alleged theft of official sports gear.

The Kenyan government on August 18 ordered a probe into the allegations.

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The officials’ embarrassing performance had a direct impact on the Kenyan athletes – who nonetheless clocked up their best Olympics yet with 13 medals including six golds, which put them in 15th place overall as the best in Africa by far.

When javelin thrower and silver medallist Julius Yego arrived at Nairobi airport, he realised that no flight had been booked for him to return home.

Kenya’s Sports Minister Hassan Wario on Thursday announced the disbanding of the Kenyan Olympic committee after the allegations surfaced.

But secretary general Paul, who is now in custody, claimed that Wario did not have the legal competence to disband the NOCK, which is overseen by the International Olympic Committee, not the Kenyan government.

Wario himself has faced calls for resignation, and on Wednesday he too was questioned in connection with the probe.

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Kenya’s Olympic team captain, marathon runner and elected MP Wesley Korir, welcomed the NOCK officials’ arrest.

“Someone should pay the price,” he said, as he called on Wario to resign.

“If you are the head of an organisation and you don’t even know what is going on, my friend you are supposed to go home.”

Kenya’s Olympics was in trouble before it even began.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) only cleared the country’s athletes at the last minute after parliamentarians botched the passage of a new law designed to convince world authorities that Kenya is serious about tackling the widespread doping that has seen at least 40 athletes banned since 2012.