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Africa

Kenyan track great Kip Keino facing corruption charges

The two-time Olympic champion is accused of playing a role in the misuse of money meant for Kenyan athletes at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 October, 2018, 5:39am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 October, 2018, 5:39am

Kenyan distance-running great Kip Keino is one of seven suspects in a corruption investigation and has been ordered to report to police by the end of Monday to face charges of embezzlement and the misappropriation of more than US$545,000.

The two-time Olympic champion and honorary member of the International Olympic Committee is accused of playing a role in the misuse of money meant for Kenyan athletes at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, when he was chairman of the Kenyan Olympic committee.

The money was part of more than US$5 million given to Keino’s Olympic committee by the Kenyan government to fund Team Kenya in Rio.

But prosecutors allege Keino was at the head of an Olympic committee rife with corruption.

The 78-year-old Keino was one of seven former Olympic and government officials named as suspects in the investigation. Two other high-ranking former Kenyan Olympic committee officials were named, as was the former Kenyan minister of sport, Hassan Wario, and three ministry officials who worked under him.

The seven are all accused of embezzling more than US$200,000, wasting more than US$150,000 on unused air tickets to Rio, overpaying allowances amounting to nearly US$150,000 and incurring tens of thousands of dollars of other expenditure on “unauthorised persons.”

Director of public prosecutions Noordin Haji said the directorate of criminal investigations (DCI), a special crimes unit, had been investigating since late 2016. After nearly two years, Haji said he was “satisfied that there is sufficient evidence” to now charge the seven with multiple counts of corruption and abuse of office.

Saturday’s announcement implicated one of Kenya’s most revered runners.

Keino’s gold in the 1,500 meters at the 1968 Mexico Olympics – 50 years ago now – paved the way for decades of dominance by Kenyan distance runners. He was named in track and field’s international hall of fame in its inaugural year in 2012 alongside the likes of Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis and Sebastian Coe, the current president of the IAAF.

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Keino was also honoured at the opening ceremony at the 2016 Rio Games, the first recipient of the Olympic Laurel award for service to the Olympic movement.

Now, he and the others have until the end of Monday to report to the headquarters of the DCI or warrants will be issued for their arrests.

Keino has not responded to the accusations.

In August, Kenyan athletics federation secretary general and IAAF Council member David Okeyo was banned for life by world track and field body the IAAF for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars of sponsorship money paid to his federation by Nike.

Public prosecutor Haji said he had also ordered further investigations into the Olympic committee’s use of its Nike sponsorship money.