PAAK: AK deducted athletes earnings irregularly

Marathon world record holder and Professional Athletes Advancing Kenya (PAAK) President Wilson Kipsang addresses the press. PHOTO: KEVIN TUNOI

Nairobi, Kenya: Elite athletes have raised the red flag over “irregular” deductions worth Sh5 million by Athletics Kenya (AK) from the prize money and bonuses they earned at the inaugural World Relays Championships in Bahamas in May

Julius Ndegwa, the Organising Secretary of Professional Athletics Association of Kenya (PAAK), said yesterday AK is no longer protecting the interest of athletes, but seems keen to exploit them.

“They are not acting right. They deducted the money from our earnings without our consent. Each gold medalist lost Sh180,000 ($2,000) while silver medalists parted with Sh90,000. They said it was meant to pay coaches and other officials in the team.

“But when we asked the coaches, they only said they were given Sh720,000 ($8,000) to share. Where did the rest of the money go? Had we not won anything in Bahamas, it means the coaches would not have been paid,” said Ndegwa.

He added: “We formed PAAK to champion for the rights of athletes, which have been neglected for a long time by the leadership.”

The deductions were done by AK in spite of Safaricom having sponsored the Relay Series and the team to Bahamas to the tune of Sh15 million.

However, AK Vice Chairman David Okeyo said the money was deducted to cater for the athletes’ visa and passport renewal, among other logistical expenses the federation incurred on their behalf.

PAAK Nairobi region chairman Jacob Yator said the athletes are suffering because AK national office has lost direction and is no longer acting on their behalf.

“That is why we want to be involved in the election of the officials. We need to have our own Athletes Commission just like other countries and have our representatives in the AK Executive Committee.

“In fact when we raised the issues affecting athletes, we were intimidated.  They are now threatening our athletes who are supporting our association by saying they will ask IAAF to ban them. However, we will not relent, our voices must be heard,” said Yator.