Kenya's Olympic body to adopt new constitution to avert sanctions

Indo Asian News Service

Nairobi, March 15 (IANS) Kenya's National Olympics Committee (Nock) Executive has agreed to forestall possible International Olympics Committee (IOC) sanctions by agreeing to adopt a new constitution.

The IOC announced last week it would discuss the errant Nock at its Executive Board meeting in South Korea on Thursday and Friday with a view to taking action against Kenya with the threat of an Olympics ban in the offing, reports Xinhua news agency.

This is after senior Nock officials voted on Tuesday last week to defeat the adoption of a new constitution following a tripartite agreement between the embattled national body, the Kenyan government and the IOC itself.

In a communication sent to all Nock affiliates on Tuesday, Secretary General, Francis Kinyili Paul who is facing charges in court following the Rio 2016 scandal that landed the body in trouble last year, announced an Extraordinary Meeting would be held on March 28 in Nairobi.

He then attached minutes from the Extraordinary Meeting last week that purported to have resolved to "adopt the new constitution".

This was contrary to the assertion by top Nock Executive officials led by Olympic Laureate, Kipchoge Keino, who declared the failure of the constitution to garner the two-thirds majority in the vote represented, "the will of the Kenyan people who could not support a document they were not involved in drafting."

Keino, a revered two-time retired Olympic champion, led 11 of his executive office holders and two federations to ensure the draft only garnered 19 votes to 13, as it failed the required threshold for its adoption and the calling of subsequent Nock elections.

The Nock boss further proclaimed fresh polls would be held under the old constitution in June, in another contravention of the IOC-brokered reform road map that had set a late March ballot exercise.

In a swift clamp down, the IOC that had sent two observers to Nairobi to oversee the Extraordinary Meeting announced two days later a freeze on all funding to Nock.

"The IOC is disappointed with the position taken to reject a roadmap it helped create in tripartite agreement with Nock, affiliate federations and the Kenyan government," a statement said.

Besides an Olympics ban, the IOC had the option of sanctioning individual Nock officials who went against their wishes including Keino who is a serving life Honorary IOC Member.

The hardline stance adopted by the international body seems to have forced the Kenyan officials into beating a hasty retreat.

On Sunday, a local daily, The Standard published a story calling for Keino, a respected figure in global sport, who is considered to be the father of Kenyan athletics, to exit leadership honourably since he risked soiling his rich legacy.

The Nock boss, who has been in charge since 1999, is reported to be interested in serving as a Honorary Life President.

Five items are listed on the agenda for the March 28 Extraordinary Meeting. The new constitution will be subjected to a vote by a 'show of hands' as opposed to secret balloting in what is a step meant to dissuade or deter those against its adoption.

The proposal and adoption (by the General Assembly) of persons, who will form 'the Independent Electoral Board' to oversee and conduct the election process for the Electoral General Assembly, is also on the agenda.

"All Associations/Federations shall be represented by two delegates, with one delegate carrying voting rights," the circular said.

The adoption of the draft constitution will pave the way for the setting of a date for fresh Nock elections that could spell the end of the long reign of senior Executives led by Keino.