NAIROBI, Kenya (Vianews) – The infamous scandal that rocked the National Committee of Kenya (NOCK) in the aftermath of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil is facing an all too familiar case of lacking permanent closure.
Kenya known for her electrifying prowess in athletics and producing top performers at the games was overshadowed by the dark cloud of alleged bribery and mismanagement of funds. The then team of NOCK officials led by chef-de-mission Stephen Soi and his deputy Ben Ekumbo were said to have been involved in the scandal that saw Ksh.88 million ($872,000) embezzled.
On top of that, athletes were short-changed in terms of kits and allowances duly provisioned for in their agreement with the body. In 2016, a parliamentary committee was formed to delve into the details regarding the supposed misappropriation of funds.
“Some ministry officials misappropriated Sh. 88, 611,480 meant for air tickets while Nock has been misappropriating Nike contract funds and kit worth amounting to Sh126m per year meant for athletes since 2013,” the final report stated.
In another case, it emerged that $20,000 was wasted in securing rooms in a luxury cruise ship meant for Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta who was re-elected for a second term and the Sports Minister despite the rooms eventually not being occupied.
In November 2016, the then NOCK first vice-chairman Ben Ekumbo was embroiled in controversy as bales of Nike kits were found in his Nairobi home meant for athletes. Additionally, dozens of boxes containing kits were found in NOCK’s offices even as Team Kenya noticeably had mismatched uniforms during the opening ceremony of the games.
Several former NOCK officials have since then been arrested and arraigned in court. However, nobody has been held accountable for this mess even as Kenya prepares for the Commonwealth Games slated for April in Australia which falls under NOCK’s docket.
Via News has collated a series of key events since the Rio Olympics scandal broke out as outlined below:
August 2016 – The genesis of the Rio scandal as reports emerge of athletes/coaches lacking accreditation, training kits and accommodation at the expense of joyriders.
August 25, 2016 – Sports Minister Hassan Wario disbands NOCK following reports of discrepancies in the handling of Team Kenya that participated in the 2016 Olympic Games. Issues reported revolved around ticketing, accommodation and athletes’ allowances.
September 2016 – Wario appears before a parliamentary committee to explain the ministry’s role and involvement in Team Kenya’s matters at the games.
September 2016 – NOCK officials led by President Kipchoge Keino, Deputy Treasurer Soi among others appear before the Parliamentary Labour and Social Welfare Committee to explain and answer questions on mismanagement of funds.
November 2016- Ekumbo appears in court on charges of kit theft after a police raid which led to the discovery of Nike kits in his apartment. Two other officials Pius Ochieng (second vice-chairman) and Francis Paul (Secretary General) charged with fraudulently acquiring Team Kenya’s kits from Nike.
March 2017 – International Olympic Committee (IOC) freezes NOCK’s account after failure by the Kenyan body to amend its constitution as required. IOC wanted this change so as to address governance issues surrounding NOCK.
May 2017 – The initial date for NOCK’s fresh elections adjourned due to the High Court’s ruling after a petition was filed by the Kenya Taekwondo Federation.
September 2017 – NOCK’s Extraordinary General Assembly held to sort out pending issues of elections and reforms at the body.
September 29, 2017 – NOCK elections finally held and five-time cross country champion Paul Tergat is elected unopposed as President. This was during a General Assembly where IOC sent its member Sam Ramsamy to observe proceedings. The elections usher in a new team as only F.K Paul remains at the helm and retains his seat.
April 2018 – Team Kenya will take part in the Commonwealth Games. It will be the first major assignment for NOCK’s new look team. It will also be their first major test to determine whether the ghosts of the Rio Olympic Games still linger or if indeed the new era will bring the much-needed change.