Kenya disbands Olympic committee after troubles in Rio

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The National Olympic Committee of Kenya was disbanded by the government on Thursday and an investigation launched into alleged mismanagement of the country’s team at the Rio de Janeiro Games.

The problems faced by the team in Rio damaged the morale of athletes, Kenya sports minister Hassan Wario said.

Those problems included a new doping scandal, ineligible athletes, missing plane tickets, and bad blood between the athletics federation and the national Olympic committee.

Even so, Kenya had its best Olympic performance in Rio, winning six golds, six silvers, and a bronze medal.

At a news conference in the ministry in Nairobi, Wario cited powers given to him by the Sports Act Number 25 of 2013 to take action against the NOC, and appointed a committee to carry out an independent inquiry.

“I do hereby disband the National Olympic Committee of Kenya with immediate effect, and transfer their responsibilities to the Sports Kenya as the interim custodian, who will ensure the adoption of a new constitution and setting of the election calendar,” Wario said in his brief address.

He declined to field questions.

Immediately after he left the boardroom, NOCK secretary general Francis K. Paul, also present, said Wario did not have the powers to make such a decision, adding they would inform the International Olympic Committee and go to court to fight the move.

“We have not given our report and, from it, maybe you may find other things and you may find we were not in the wrong because we will give an account of all uniforms that we received, and all the uniforms that were distributed, and to whom,” Paul said.

“We did what we were supposed to do, and you should ask the right people for answers. We did our job very well. We will not move from our offices, we do not occupy a government building, and we pay our rent. We are going nowhere.”

Wario launched an eight-member probe committee, which includes retired athletes Moses Kiptanui and Elizabeth Olaba, to investigate what happened in the organization and planning for Kenya’s Olympic team. The committee has to Sept. 30 to report back to the minister, with any recommendations for action.

The NOCK is also accused of mismanaging accommodation for the team, taking a huge number of joy riders to the games, and selling off kit from Nike. Paul dismissed those allegations, and instead blamed the ministry of sports.

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