Pair kicked out of Kenyan team over age discrepancies

Kenya's Cleophas Kandie (right) and Ethiopia's Alemu Kitessa compete in the 2000m steeplechase semi-finals during the IAAF World Under 18 Athletics Championships on July 14, 2017 at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Athletics Kenya have kicked out two junior athletes from the Team Kenya camp preparing for the World Cross Country Championships planned for March 30 in Aarhus, Denmark.

AK senior vice president Paul Mutwii, who is also in charge of competitions, disclosed that Kibet Kandie and Agnes Mwikali have been locked out of the men and women’s Under-20 teams owing to age issues.

Mutwii indicated that the 2017 World Under-18 2,000m steeplechase silver medallist Cleophas Kandie and Mercy Cherop have replaced the duo immediately.

“Kibet had a birth certificate indicating that he is aged 18, but he had no national identification card,” Mutwii said.

“Mwikali’s documents couldn’t verify her age and we thought it wise to replace her as we investigate.”

Mwikali finished fourth, while Kibet sixth in their respective races to make Team Kenya for the Aarhus World event.

Cleophas stumbled and fell in the last lap during the National Cross Country Championships held February 23 at Eldoret Sports Club. Cherop settled eighth.

“Cleophas was lying third when he fell hence failing to finish the race. That is why we thought it wise to give him a chance,” explained Mutwii, adding that they settled for Cherop since Roselida Jepketer, who finished seventh has an injury.

There was information that some athletes, who had competed as juniors many years ago, had used different birth certificates to earn places in the men and women’s Under-20 teams.

“We had to make the changes since we want to be in line with Athlete Integrity Unit requirements,” said Mutwii, adding that they have already made their final entry for the World Championships.

Mutwii said that the only athlete yet to report to camp is the World and Commonwealth 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri, who also won women’s 10km race during the National Cross Country Championships.

Mutwii said Obiri had requested to be exempted for a week so as to attend to a National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock) engagement

Obiri is the chef de mission for Team Kenya that will take part in the First ANOCA Zone V Genocide Memorial Games planned for April 2 to 6 in Kigali, Rwanda.

Mutwii said save for Obiri, Team Kenya residential training that got underway on March 1 at Kigari Teachers Training College, Embu is a full house.

World Under-20 5,000m champion Beatrice Chebet and little-known Samuel Chebole won the men and women’s Under-20 races during the National Championships to lead the junior teams to Denmark.

AK selected a team of 30 athletes during the Nationals, where Obiri and 2016 World Under-20 3,000m steeplechase champion Amos Kirui won the senior races.

Mutwii said that the team has already been kitted with their official sponsors Nike, beside receiving their allowances. “We are happy that we have the kit on time this time around,” said Mutwii.

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