Kenya orders defector athletes to leave country

NAIROBI: Kenya on Tuesday ordered all athletes who have renounced their citizenship to leave the country and told them to stick to their adopted nations. 

The announcement came the day after world athletics chiefs unveiled stringent eligibility rules for athletes who want to renounce their citizenships. 

Minister for Sports Ochilo Ayacko has asked Athletics Kenya to forward the names of athletes who have defected to his office by next week to enable him take the necessary action. 

“Once you have decided to change your nationality, you have no business being here and enjoying our facilities,” Ayacko told a news conference after launching an African Athletics Confederation (AAC) Permit Meeting to be held in Nairobi on May 7. 

He said Kenya does not allow dual citizenship and will not permit defectors to enjoy facilities in the east African nation. 

Ayacko added that his ministry will be on the look-out and any defectors found training in Kenya will be deported. 

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) ruled at its Congress in Doha, Qatar, that athletes who change nationality cannot compete for their new country until three years have elapsed after acquiring citizenship. 

However, this period may be reduced to 12 months with the agreement of their respective member countries. 

Kenya has lost several athletes to oil-rich Gulf states. 

World 3,000m steeplechase champion Saif Saeed Shaheen led a number of Kenyans defecting to the Gulf after the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England where he won the gold medal as Stephen Cherono of Kenya. 

Shaheen's victory in the 2003 world championships in Paris brought an angry reaction in official circles and then Minister for Sport Najib Balala set up a Commission of Inquiry into what was dubbed a 'National Shame' or 'Passport for Sale' scandal. 

A number of Kenyans represented different nationalities in the Paris worlds while at last month's world cross country championships in St Galmier ex-Kenyans from Qatar and Bahrain gave their former country stiff competition in the men's races. – Reuters 

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