Ghosts of sexual assault charges haunt athletes

Thursday, November 19th, 2020 00:00 | By
Conselus Kipruto when he won men’s 3000 steeplechase at the 2012 Herculis meeting in Monaco. Photo/Courtesy

Amos Abuga

The defilement case facing  Olympic and world 3,000 metres steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto could just be a tip of the iceberg of the ghosts that haunt athletes in their private lives.

Kipruto was on Monday arraigned in a Kapsabet court charged with having sex with a 15-year-old girl, ignoring the fact that the age of consent in Kenya is 18. He was released on a Sh200,000 bond after pleading not guilty.

Though the careers of  majority of athletes have ended in disgrace, several young sports stars have seemingly remained impervious and continued to operate unfazed.

Kipruto’s case is just one among many athletes to court sexual assault allegations in Kenya.

The star athlete, who besides winning gold at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil, is also a world champion and is regarded as among the best athletes on the globe. 

The 25-year-old won gold in the men’s 3,000 metres steeplechase at the 2016 Summer Games.

He replicated the feat at the 2017 and 2019 World Championships held in London and Doha respectively.

Currently he risks being barred from representing Kenya at the 2021 Games in Tokyo, Japan.

His case is scheduled to be heard in May 2021, two months before the Tokyo Olympics and should he be found guilty, it might as well signal the end of his glittering but short career. 

People Daily has learnt that his case, not for the first time, would not have caught national limelight had the frantic efforts of elders and county top brass materialised.

Elders had tried to foster reconciliation between the parties in vain. Kipruto, who took the mantle from celebrated steeplechaser Ezekiel Kemboi, seems to have picked more than enough from his predecessor.  

 Prior to the 2012 Olympics Games in London, police charged former multiple Olympic champion Kemboi for assault and rape charges. 

A woman identified as Ann Njeri had accused the athlete of stabbing her in the chest after she rebuffed his sexual advances at the conclusion of a night-out at a bar.

Kemboi denied the accusations during an appearance before a magistrate in Eldoret town and was released on bail.

The case is said to have been settled out of court. Kemboi won gold during the 2004  Olympics in Athens, Greece.

Peaceful divorce 

World 800m record holder, David Rudisha was in 2019 accused of assault by his then wife, Lizzy Naanyu.

 It is alleged that the accusations bordered on adultery with the two time Olympic Champion eventually resorting to seek the help of elders who eventually oversaw a peaceful divorce process, preventing the case from getting to the courts. 

Beijing Olympics marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru, now deceased, found himself on the wrong side of the law in a matter involving women.

In May 2011, the late Wanjiru was charged with threatening to kill his wife Njeri with an AK-47 assault rifle after a night out drinking with friends.

Accusations were later withdrawn after his wife said they had reconciled. 

Wanjiru would later die under controversial circumstances. The wife claimed  the celebrated athlete had leapt from the balcony of their matrimonial home after she caught him with a woman.

Wanjiru’s death is the subject of an ongoing inquest.  

Former Olympic Champion Asbel Kiprop, who is currently serving a four-year ban from competitive athletics for failing a doping test has also found himself at the center of a scandal involving women.

Kiprop  had been accused of having an extra marital affair with his best friend’s wife and even posted semi-nude video recordings of their escapades.

He later defended himself that they were both consenting adults and that he was within his rights to be intimate with the woman.

Reached for comment, Athletics Kenya (AK) senior vice president Paul Mutwii  said the federation does not condone violence of any kind especially rape and defilement.

“We are hoping the allegations are not true. We do not advocate for such acts.

As it stands, the allegations are not only maligning the athletes but the federation as well. The world is watching and very concerned,” he said.

Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago echoed Mutwii’s sentiments, saying athletes or Kenyans accused of rape or defilement must be investigated and charged if found guilty.

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