By Mutwiri Mutota
Often accused of treating foreign managers with kid gloves in the past, Athletics Kenya (AK) slapped indefinite suspensions on two top European agents barring them from representing the country’s runners.
Italian national, Gianni Demadonna and German Volker Wagner, who were suspended in February before being reinstated, were sanctioned for entering athletes selected to the national team for Berlin in road races at the weekend.
The stern measure followed national head coach Julius Kirwa’s outrage over Sammy Kitwara and Gideon Ngatuny, who were selected to the men’s 10,000m team for Berlin, for competing in America and Japan just over a month before the world event.
AK chairman, Isaiah Kiplagat, announced the immediate suspensions of Demmadona and Wagner yesterday. Part of the letter to Wagner read, "Kitwara is an athlete selected to represent Kenya in 10,000m during the world championships.
"We have just found out that he ran 10km road race in the USA without our authority. In our previous circular, no athlete was to compete without clearance from us. While we wait for your explanation on the matter, you are hereby suspended indefinitely."
Demadonna’s suspension letter reads in part: "Ngatunyi ran 21km last week in Japan without our clearance. Also Elizabeth Mueni, in our junior African team, competed in Oslo without clearance as well as Hilda Kibet who is also out without a letter from us."
AK has also contacted the international body, IAAF detailing the action. Apart from Kitwara, Wagner also represents former world women’s marathon record holder, Tegla Loroupe and world marathon champion, Luke Kibet, among others.
Olympics 800m men’s champion Wilfred Bungei and All Africa Games women’s steeplechase champion Ruth Bosibori are among those in Demadonna’s stable.
Kitwara won Saturday’s Peachtree Road Race (10km) while Ngatuny was victorious at Sapporo International Half Marathon in Japan.
Speaking to FeverPitch, Kirwa expressed displeasure with their participation in those events.
"We are not happy with Kitwara and Ngatuny. We have only a month to Berlin and they should relax and prepare for the 10,000m race which will be tough," Kirwa charged.
"The problem is the distances they covered especially Ngatuny who did 21km," he added.
Kirwa disclosed coaches would meet and deliberate on the matter and, if recommended, the two could be replaced in the men’s 10,000m squad.
"Athletes like Moses Masai, who finished third at the nationals, and Micah Kogo, who did not finish the trials, have qualified for Berlin and we could consider them," Kirwa stormed.