Kenyans raise defector concerns

Bahrain basked in the glory of Kenyan-born Yusuf Saad Kamel’s victory over 1,500 metres at the Berlin World Championships last month but back in East Africa the subject of defecting athletes is worrying many people.

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Allegations that young runners are being smuggled abroad, diplomatic rows and complaints from athletes about their treatment in their new homes have all fuelled the flames of controversy.

Kamel himself, born Gregory Konchellah 26 years ago, was at the centre of one row, asking Kenya to take him back after accusing Bahraini officials of withholding his passport, failing to pay him bonuses and recruiting under-age athletes.

The dispute was settled in time to allow Kamel to run for Bahrain in Berlin, where he added an 800 metres bronze to his 1,500 gold, but concerns continue about other athletes following in his footsteps.

"The smuggling of athletes, perpetrated by unscrupulous coaches operating illegal camps away from our radar, is going on," Athletics Kenya chairman Isaiah Kiplagat said recently, after reports that children were being lured from schools in remote parts of the Rift Valley Province to run for Gulf States.

"Do we consider these children as expatriates or refugees?" asked Kiplagat, Kenyan member of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

"Some of them come to us complaining about poor conditions out there. Others are suffering silently."

Source: aljazeera 

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