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Monday 18 November 2019

Kenya’s running great Kip Keino rejects ’embezzlement’ claims

The running great proclaims his innocence and is the only one of the seven suspects yet to be charged.

Kipchoge ‘Kip’ Keino denies wrongdoing (Sayyid Abdul Azim/AP)
Kipchoge ‘Kip’ Keino denies wrongdoing (Sayyid Abdul Azim/AP)

By Mutwiri Mutuota

Kenyan running great Kip Keino has denied wrongdoing in his country’s Olympic corruption scandal and did not appear in court as expected on Friday.

Prosecutors have been given more time to investigate if he was involved in the misuse of more than 545,000 US dollars.

Keino, whose 1500m victory in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics sparked decades of athletics success for the nation, was one of seven Kenyan Olympic and government officials initially accused by prosecutors of corruption and abuse of office relating to money for Kenya’s team at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

But he is the only one yet to be charged.

Three former sports ministry officials, including former minister of sport Hassan Wario, were charged with corruption and abuse of office on Friday.

Kip Keino of Kenya wins his second Olympic gold medal in the 3,000-metre steeplechase in Munich, in 1972 (AP)

They denied the charges and were released on 10,000 US dollars cash bail each.

The three others were charged on Monday.

Keino’s appearance was delayed, lending weight to speculation that the two-time Olympic champion and honorary IOC member will be a witness in the case and not a defendant.

In the interview with the Associated Press earlier, Keino denied wrongdoing, saying he did not have control over any of the more than half a million dollars of government money prosecutors say was embezzled and misappropriated.

He appeared to blame the former officials in the government’s sports ministry.

“I was not writing any government cheques,” Keino said in the phone interview.

“It’s their people who did it. That’s what I know.”

Kenya’s flag has been regularly hoisted at the Olympics since Kip Keino put the country on the athletics map (Danny Lawson/PA)

Asked if had any involvement in the misuse of the money, he replied “it had to do with what those who were in charge”.

Keino’s lawyer, Cecil Miller, explained his client’s absence in court, saying police and prosecutors needed to review a statement given by Keino that shows he was not responsible for signing any documents that controlled the money.

Prosecutors released documents last weekend saying Keino and the six others should be charged over the embezzlement of more than 200,000 dollars and misuse of more than 300,000 dollars of Kenya’s Olympic money.

Prosecutors say more than 150,000 dollars of the misused money went on unused air tickets to Rio, nearly 150,000 dollars was used in overpaid allowances, and tens of thousands of dollars were spent on “unauthorised persons”, people who were not Olympic officials or athletes.

PA Media

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