By  Erick Ochieng

The verbal altercation between Athletics Kenya (AK) Chairman Isaiah Kiplagat and Sports Minister Ababu Namwamba escalated on Tuesday.

Kiplagat reacted to Namwamba’s stinging attack on him over the poor state of stadia in the country at the weekend in Iten.

The AK boss clarified that it was wrong for the Minister to state that the funds meant to develop the stadia in the country are channelled through the Sports Stadia Management Board (SSMB). He advised the Minister to seek in-depth analysis and clarification before making such statements of pertinent issues like that witnessed in Iten.

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Kiplagat said SSMB, which he is part of, is unfortunately being accused for no reason for embezzling the money yet the funds are always channelled to the Department of Sports that is mandated with its distribution.

“SSMB receives grants from the government, to run its affairs. The annual Sh350m that the Minister is talking about is channelled to the Sports Department and not us.

“The money that we have received is the Sh100m, which we are using to renovate the Kipchoge Keino stadium in Eldoret. Already Sh70 million has been released,” said Kiplagat.

The chairman said he should not be crucified solely by the Minister over the funds yet SSMB is statutory board consisting of  officials  from  his federation, the AK, Football Kenya Federation, Kenya National Sports Councils and other 11 representatives which  include the Permanent Secretary and the Sports Commissioner.

While hailing the new Sports Bill, saying it will assist fringe sports to be competitive and win medals for Kenya, the AK chief advised that it should not be used to scare away officials of federations.

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Namwamba had stated that with the new law in place, his revolver was loaded, waiting to pull the trigger.

“The Sports Act is a God-send weapon to protect the interests of Kenyan sportsmen and women. Some federations have micromanaged their operations as if they are running their personal businesses. But time is over and it is not business as usual,” the Minister said.

While reacting to the above statement, Kiplagat said the Bill should be applied professionally to achieve its mandate and not to fix people.

“A way should be found to develop the document and the Bill should assist federation officials in the execution of their duties, not fixing them,” he said.

Kiplagat refused to comment on the Minister’s statement concerning lackluster performance by Team Kenya in the 2012 London Olympics, saying he has not seen the games report.

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Namwamba asked why Kiplagat, who sits in the SSMB, complained about the deplorable conditions of local stadia yet he could not provide answers for the misuse of public funds at SSMB meetings. He challenged Kiplagat to explain the cause of poor performance at the London Olympics.

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