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How joyriders and officials cost the Kenya millions in Rio Olympics

By Gilbert Wandera | Published Wed, November 30th 2016 at 00:00, Updated November 29th 2016 at 23:42 GMT +3
Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge crosses the finish line to win men’s marathon during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August this year. A probe team says the list of officials to the games was bloated. [PHOTO : FILE]

There were at least 16 joyriders who had no business travelling to Rio Olympic Games, an investigative committee has said.

The joyriders, who included relatives of Olympic officials, cost the taxpayer more than Sh10 million.

More millions were lost in allowances paid to officials who never traveled to Rio.

Concerns over the presence of joy riders to Olympic Games in August were part of a long list of controversies generated by the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK)’s handling of the event.

The investigative committee report takes issue with the games’ Steering Committee for sending 16 of its members to Rio.

“A total of 16 members of the Steering Committee were in the contingent. Considering that in Rio, the National Olympic of Kenya (NOCK) was in charge of athletes, at most there should have been only five members of the committee.

“Therefore, Team Kenya had 11 excess Steering Committee members,” says the probe report.

Each of the Steering Committee members was paid Sh975,146.88, which means that Kenya would have saved Sh10,726,615 by cutting down on this number.

In total, the Government spent Sh15,612,318 on allowances for Steering Committee members.

EXTRA STAFF

The report also points out that there were four extra physiotherapists in the team.

“As per the IOC medical workbook, a team should carry one physiotherapist for every eight athletes. Team Kenya had 14 physiotherapists for 80 athletes which is four more than is needed,” states the report.

Each of the physiotherapist was paid an allowance of Sh914,200.

The report further takes issue with Sports Kenya for carrying an extra member of staff.

“Much as it was important that Sports Kenya sends a representative to the games, one person was sufficient. There was no point of having both the Director General and the Chairman travelling to Rio,” says part of the report.

The report however defends Juliet Chepkorir Maritim, wife of Stephen Soi, the Chef de Mission for the Rio Olympic team who travelled to Brazil, saying she did not do so on a Government-paid air ticket but made her own travel arrangements.

“It was established that as much as she travelled to Rio to join her husband who had gone there earlier, she paid for her own ticket and was not paid for by the Government. She also paid for her own accommodation and was not staying at the Olympic Games Village. Proof of payment was made available to the committee,” the report says.

The committee, however, demands that Vincent Kanyili Paul, son of NOCK secretary general FK Paul, be made to refund money paid by the Government for the air ticket he used to travel to Rio.

The report further points out a number of people were paid full allowances yet they never travelled to Rio. This include Boniface Mweresa (Sh761,833), Kiprono Koskei (Sh761,833), Thomas Longosiwa (Sh761,833) and Maurine Mutuku (Sh960,00).

“Mutuku is however exemplary. She never travelled to Rio due to a sudden illness and upon full recovery, she returned all the allowances. The other four had not returned their allowances as at October 20,” the report states.

The report further points out that two officials who were expelled from Rio were paid their allowances in full despite serving Team Kenya for less than five days.

Sprints coach John Anzrah and Team Manager Major (Rtd) Michael Rotich each received Sh914,200 through direct credit to their accounts despite their stay in Rio being cut short following a series of allegations.

Rotich got himself in trouble after German TV ARD and British publication Sunday Times filmed him allegedly claiming he could tip off athletes against anti-doping officials.

He was subsequently thrown out of Rio and suspended for 90 days by world athletics body, IAAF.

Anzrah on the other hand found himself in trouble when he was caught wearing the accreditation badge of 800m runner, Ferguson Rotich, who was due for a random dope test, as he went for lunch at the Olympics Village.

The report however exonerates Anzrah from accusations that he could have signed the dope test on Rotich’s behalf even as it questioned why the coach was forced to share a room with four other officials outside the Games’ Village upon arrival in Brazil.

In total, the Ministry of Sports spent Sh130,983,026 on preparations, training and qualification of teams and athletes, Sh95,3777, 800 on airfare for 89 athletes and 88 officials, Sh163,023,000 on overseas allowances and Sh109,497,600 on other expenses.

Another Sh7,392,000 was set aside for eight ‘other guests’ who were paid for the 22 days that the games were held in Brazil.

The report draws a list of the trip’s top earners, with Chef De Mission Stephen Soi earning Sh4,284,000 in allowances.

Other high earners were Richard Ekai, NOCK chairman Kipchoge Keino and F.K Paul who were paid Sh2,772,000.

The report notes that local companies Kenya Breweries and Safaricom who had taken over as Diamond and Bronze sponsors have withheld part of the money they were to give owing to the scandal surrounding the games.

Breweries had sponsored the team to a tune of Sh21million while Safaricom was to give Sh5million.

“KBL wrote to NOCK lawyers suspending the disbursement of the last instalments until the fate of NOCK is determined conclusively,” the report states.

The beer manufacturer had transferred Sh10,750,000 to NOCK from the Sh21 million sponsorship with the final balance of Sh5.25 million scheduled to be paid on September 1 together with the Sh839,456 remaining from the sale of the special edition of the lager produced to mark the Olympics that raised Sh3,839,456.

NO NOTICE

Safaricom was to host Team Kenya to a farewell and reception dinners and offered Sh5,000,000 to the Olympics and Paralympics teams only for the company to learn through social media that the first batch had departed for Rio on July 24 without any notification from NOCK.

Among the recommendations made by the committee include asking those who were paid allowances but did not travel to be compelled to refund the same.

The report recommends for a thorough audit on the process followed by the Ministry of Sports to award Green Bay Travels the tender to supply tickets at what it terms as exorbitant price.

“Those found culpable for the irregular award to face the consequences of their actions. An audit ought to be done on how the ministry paid for venue entrance tickets and meals for Members of Parliament and other State officials who already had been paid allowances,” says the probe team in its recommendations.

The report recommends that in future, athletes should be paid only for the number of days they are in camp before disbanding.


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