Overhaul Ministry of Sports to end stinking rot

Monday, July 18th, 2022 04:13 | By
Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed. PD/file
Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed. PD/file

Kenya is once again in the limelight because of yet another athletics scandal. It seems just like the other day when there was a huge outcry over the 2016 Rio Olympics scandal, where unauthorised people went as joyriders at the expense of athletes, and were even paid hefty allowances. How the Ministry of Sports can repeat the same blunders again boggles the mind of one and all.

Botched preparations by the Ministry of Sports saw Kenyan athletes stuck in the country until the last minute waiting for visas to travel to Oregon, USA, for the World Athletics championships.

The 100m African champion, Ferdinand Omanyala, has become the face of the debacle. The whole world has been waiting for the fast-rising African sprint champion to test his prowess on the world stage with the best globally. He was carrying the pride of Africa with him.

Unfortunately, he missed his flight due to the visa shenanigans. When he finally got his visa, the Games were already underway. He arrived in Oregon with three hours to spare, and so went straight to the track.

He qualified for the semi-final, where he had to compete against the world’s best barely 24 hours after landing. Sadly, his brave journey came to an end here, as he did not qualify for the final.

Kenyans are still waiting for an official statement from the Ministry of Sports cabinet secretary, Ms Amina Mohamed. She owes the country an explanation. She cannot continue to stay mum as the chief accountability officer in this ministry.

Available information indicates that the Ministry of Sports had told the US Embassy they would be presenting 80 names for visa applications. However, they ended up presenting 120 names, topping up the list with joyriders. This caused confusion at the Embassy, who wanted clarifications on the discrepancies. Athletes got caught up in this mess, and their visas were delayed.

What is frustrating is that the Rio scandal is very fresh in the minds of Kenyans. Indeed, former Sports Cabinet Secretary, Hassan Wario, and the 2016 chef de mission, Stephen arap Soi, were convicted and sentenced to jail terms or to pay stiff fines.

It seems like the Ministry of Sports will just not learn. This time around, something very drastic needs to happen. Clearly, there are officials in the Ministry of Sports who are incorrigible and will simply not learn.

Having escaped the Rio dragnet, they seem to have decided they were too smart, and therefore, can continue with business as usual. Why else would they continue with the same fraudulent activities?

The Ministry of Sports requires a complete and total clean-out. And those found to be culpable should not be posted elsewhere, not even the customary North Eastern. They should be sacked and prosecuted!

Even with the current Government having less than a month to go, this is one business they need to take care of immediately. The Director of Criminal Investigations, George Kinoti, says they are investigating the US visa debacle. Any official found to have been involved at any level in this debacle needs to be charged. Further, the Ministry of Sports seems to have failed in what is now one of its most critical duties- keeping drugs out of Kenyan sports.

A day before he was scheduled to compete, Kenyans received the shocking news that Lawrence Cherono, a top marathoner who was one of Kenya’s three representatives in the distance at the World Championships, had failed a doping test. He was suspended from the competition.

This left Kenya disadvantaged after being left with only Geoffrey Kamworor and Barnaba Kiptum to represent the country.   Doping has become a major menace in Kenya’s athletics, and the situation seems to be worsening. Elite Kenyan athletes are being routinely caught doping. Now, nobody trusts Kenyan athletes anymore, and the country is on laser beam focus from global anti-doping agencies.

These are the critical issues that should be keeping officials from the Ministry of Sports awake at night, not plotting on how they will piggy ride as stowaways to global sports championships.

[email protected]

More on Opinion