Athletes return after helping Bahrain win medals

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By FeverPitch Reporter

Junior runners at the centre of a storm between Athletics Kenya (AK) and Bahrain Athletics Association (BAA) are back in the country.

They returned after helping Bahrain to sweep the junior race titles at Sunday’s Asian Cross Country Championships.

Edwin Chebii Kimurer, Isaac Kemboi Chelimo and Gladys Cherotich Kibiwott told FeverPitch on arrival from Doha on Monday that they indeed competed for Bahrain.

Bahrain junior athletes arrive at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Monday accompanied by unidentified person. Photo: Boniface Okendo/Standard

However, their return was controversial as the coach accused of mortgaging them to the Gulf State Boniface Tiren, denied he was in charge of the trio.

He instead pointed a finger at an AK official claiming that the charges levelled against him were meant to ‘deny me opportunities.’

“Let AK summon me and the official so that we can explain our cases. I was in Bahrain with other athletes running for Qatar. It is true I discussed with Bahrain the possibility of working for them and we are still discussing,” Tiren, a member of the technical bench in the national team for the World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, said.

“I met the Bahrain people in Poland and the desire to work for them is purely to enhance my career. I am not involved in taking junior runners there,” he explained.

FeverPitch caught up with the runners at the arrival lobby of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport where they were held up for more than an hour after the Qatar Airways flight ferrying them landed. Tiren was said to have aided in clearing the same runners he distanced himself from at Immigration Control after issues arose with their passports. “Yes, we competed at the Asian Games and we don’t know him (Tiren),” Kibiwott told FeverPitch at the JKIA parking lot as the two male runners nodded in agreement.

Summon him

Later, the athletes were spotted leaving together with the coach and another man who claimed to be an acquaintance. In a swift rejoinder, AK chairman, Isaiah Kiplagat, said the federation would call Tiren, still a member of the national coaching staff, to explain why he travelled with the athletes.

“We will summon him alone. He is a Kenyan and we want to find out who gave him permission to leave with the athletes.

“We have presented his case to the Minister for Immigration and (world body) IAAF are still reviewing the matter. We have no problem with coaches taking senior athletes to these countries but the problem is runners as young as 16 who are still in school being sent to these countries,” Kiplagat said.

According to Gulf Daily News website, Kimurer won junior men’s 8km race silver while Kemboi was eighth. Kibiwott was seventh in the women’s 6km.

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