Athletics: Kenya moves on foreign agents

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The Independent Online
TWO of Britain's leading athletics agents are considering legal action following a ban by the Kenyan Amateur Athletic Association on foreign agents representing its athletes. The KAAA now wants to enter competitors in European races directly through the International Amateur Athletic Federation, writes Mike Rowbottom.

Kim McDonald and John Bicourt, who look after some of Kenya's best athletes, including William Tanui, the Olympic 800 metres champion, and Ismael Kirui, the world 10,000m champion, are prepared to go to the courts if the ban is upheld. They point out that athletes have contracts with them.

The latest crisis in what has been a long wrangle between the Kenyan authorities and agents has followed a dispute involving the Kenyan 15- year-old world 10,000m bronze medallist, Selinah Barsosio.

According to Kenyan athletics chief Isaiah Kiplagat, McDonald had flown to the rural community north-west of Nairobi where Barsosio lived and taken her to Europe for pre-season meetings without permission from her parents or the KAAA. McDonald denies Kiplagat's allegations.

McDonald met with the KAAA executive committee on Tuesday and they are re-drafting a contract for the agents to consider. A suggestion that the KAAA takes five per cent of its athletes' money has been taken out of the new draft. But if this proves not to settle the issue, further action may be taken at a higher level.

Kiplagat has accused European agents of 'misusing Kenyan athletes by entering them in all sorts of competition ranging from cross- country, road races, half marathons to track events'.

He has been supported by several leading Kenyan athletes. Twice world 800m champion Billy Konchellah said Kenya's performance at the highest level had been harmed in recent years by agents forcing athletes into too many meetings before major events.