Kenya’s Olympic officials grilled over Rio mismanagement

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Nairobi, Aug 28 (IANS) Three National Olympics Committee-Kenya (NOCK) officials, arrested upon their return here from Rio de Janeiro, have been grilled at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters here over their role in the alleged mismanagement of the country’s team to the Rio Olympics.

NOCK Secretary General Francis K. Paul, Chef de Mission Stephen Soi and his deputy James Chacha were arrested on Friday, reports Xinhua.

“Yes, we have detained them and they recorded statements with the DCI as investigations continue into the Rio 2016 mess,” a source in the DCI department confirmed on Saturday.

Paul was arrested in Nairobi on Friday evening before officers arrested Soi and Chacha as soon as they touched down at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport from Brazil before being driven to join their colleague.

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This comes after the country’s government disbanded NOCK on Thursday following pressure from the public and a directive from President Uhuru Kenyatta for the scandal to be investigated and those responsible brought to book.

The officials are accused of mismanagement of the athletes who brought the country her best ever Olympics performance of six gold, six silver and a bronze, taking a large number of joy riders to Rio at taxpayers’ expense and pilfering and then selling off official kit that left the competitors threadbare.

Meanwhile, the last batch of returning members of Kenya’s team to the Olympics narrated the horrors they went through at the hands of NOCK officials when they landed home from Brazil.

Having witnessed Soi and Chacha arrested, there was little sympathy for the officials as the athletes told of the mistreatment accorded to them especially after the Olympics Village was officially closed on August 24.

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Marathoner and team captain Wesley Kipchumba Korir, who is also a parliamentarian representing Cherangany Constituency in the lower house, told reporters of their ordeal in Brazil.

“These guys (NOCK officials) are so full of themselves but this time we felt enough was enough. There was so much emotional distress within the camp built up right from the day we left the country and for every day we spent in Rio,” the 33-year-old said on Saturday.

He cited the dictatorial leadership of Chef de Mission Soi as the root of all the chaos claiming there was no structured communication channel among the team’s handlers with Soi demanding control over every thing.

“I was dressed in an oversized kit and it was so shameful that I had to take it upon myself to confront Nike officials on the issue. But these things have always existed … so much that athletes have come to terms with living this kind of a life. Even (former long distance runner) Paul Tergat went through this,” the parliamentarian, who was debuting for his nation in international competition lamented.

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