Oregon 2022: DCI launches investigations into Omanyala’s US visa debacle
The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) has launched investigations into recent allegations that the Ministry of Sports smuggled 32 joyriders to attend the 2022 World Athletics Championship in Oregon, United States.
In the move that was made at the expense of athletes such as Africa's fastest man Ferdinand Omanyala who almost missed the competitions, the 'joyriders' were slotted for the first batch that travelled out on Friday last week.
This was, reportedly, to prevent any form of detection from the US embassy officials who were mandated with the task of issuing visas.
"The reason why the ministry officials included Omanyala and Tuwei in the last batch was meant to hoodwink embassy officials since they knew the star sprinter and the federation president could not be left out," a source told People Daily.
Joyriders caused hitch in Omanyala's visa
It is alleged that the joyriders parted with Ksh2 million each for them to be included in the list.
The addition of the joyriders saw the travel list increase from 80 people to 112, causing delays in the issuance of US travel visas to athletes selected to represent the country at the championships.
DCI boss George Kinoti expressed disappointment stating that the agency was investigating the inclusion of joyriders, coaches and technical officers included in the list by Athletics Kenya (AK).
“It is really shocking… this is a shame not to the country but to the whole world… we shall not accept,” Kinoti stated.
Officials deny Omanyala visa claims
The State Department of Sports however denied the allegations that the joyriders paid to be included in the list.
They also affirmed that no government official had travelled to the US.
Athletics Kenya president Jack Tuwei in a recent interview intimated that he was not informed of any official who had travelled apart from those cleared.
He maintained that the federation had only presented a list of 46 athletes and 28 officials at the US embassy for Visa applications.
"All athletes were issued with visas within one week save for Omanyala and Sheila Chekirui. Some officials were not issued with visas, including myself, because of the backlog at the embassy. I am not aware of any other list," Tuwei stated.
Joe Okudo, Principal Secretary in the department, also noted that only six ministry officials had been scheduled to travel.
He added that the six; Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, her personal assistant, a technical person from the Ministry and a representative from the Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund were travelling for a meeting with Kenya's chief kitting sponsor Nike scheduled for Monday.
“The fact that I didn’t travel says a lot. Only those who need to travel from the Ministry are travelling,” Okudo maintained.
He further clarified that the sports ministry was only involved in assisting Kenya with Visas.
“All athletes got their visas except Omanyala because some information was not disclosed in his application, which had nothing to do with AK. Omanyala is best placed to answer that,” he added.
Omanyala qualifies for semi-finals
Omanyala touched down in the USA three hours before the race. He managed to sail through the semi-finals and emerged third after clocking 10.10 seconds.