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Iten plans to control foreign clubs

Last updated 3 months ago | By Stephen Rutto and Jonathan Komen

Elgeyo Marakwet County Assembly have tabled a Bill that seeks to restrict and regulate athletics activities of foreigners in the county and boost its revenue base.

Iten town, they say, is the Mecca of world athletics.

Olympic Games bound teams from world’s biggest economies like USA, Britain, Germany and The Netherlands always pitch tent thanks to the town's athletic bug.

Iten, which has more than 5,000m athletes, is no doubt the best athletics training site in the world, slightly better than St Moritz in Switzerland and the Boulder in Colorado, USA.

Multiple Olympic champion Mo Farah, women's mixed world marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe, 2012 World Indoor 800m bronze medalist Andrew Osagie, 2011 world 1,500m silver medalist Hannah England and Michael Rimmer, the 2010 European 800m silver medalist, are among top British athletes that train at High Altitude Training Centre in Iten. Ethiopia’s former world 10,000m champion Ibrahim Jeilan also trains in the camp.

The county boasts of 11 training camps. And the Elgeyo Marakwet County Assembly have tabled a Bill that seeks to restrict and regulate athletics activities of foreigners in the county and boost its revenue base.

Sports agents, especially that run athletics camps in the region, will have to register and pay annual fees if the county Assembly passes Elgeyo Marakwet Sports Development Bill 2019.

“The institute shall undertake research and institutionalize scientific approach to training,” Article 14 (2) of the bill reads in part.

“The registrar shall issue licenses for professional sports in accordance with the regulations and the requirements that the Cabinet Secretary (for sports) may prescribe and any other law.”

County Assembly sports committee chairperson Winnie Kanda (nominated) said the Bill will come up for second reading in three weeks time.

The proposed law bars unregistered sports organisations and clubs from accessing county sports facilities.

Wilson Boit Kipketer, a former world 3000m steeplechase silver medalist and former MCA of Kabiemit Ward in the county, said the County Assembly must tread carefully.

"The law should not infringe on local athletes. They must know know athletes invest in their talent and if they want want to get revenue, start investing in local athletes. "I trained in St Moritz and never paid anything. These athletes can leave and head to Switzerland or even USA," he said.

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