Row over Kenyans marathon rethink

A huge row has erupted in Kenya over a decision by national athletics chiefs to dump the three-strong marathon team for the Sydney Olympics because of alleged complacency. The team has been replaced by an entirely new one.

A huge row has erupted in Kenya over a decision by national athletics chiefs to dump the three-strong marathon team for the Sydney Olympics because of alleged complacency. The team has been replaced by an entirely new one.

The Kenya Amateur Athletic Association general secretary, David Okeyo, said the team of the double Boston marathon winner Moses Tanui, the reigning Boston champion, Elijah Lagat, and Japheth Kosgei, the Tokyo marathon winner, had been scrapped.

The new team will include the Rotterdam marathon winner Kennedy Cheruiyot and the 1996 Olympic marathon bronze medallist Eric Wainaina. Osoro Ondoro, who won last year's Chicago marathon, was also selected but his participation looks unlikely after he was shot in the neck by car-jackers in Nairobi whilst driving home from the team trials on Sunday night. His condition was yesterday described as stable.

Okeyo said the team had been changed because the trio selected earlier were training inconsistently and that complacency had set in. He said the move was recommended by a panel of coaches appointed to monitor training.

However, athletics insiders said the motive was political, given Tanui's repeated demands for greater transparency and accountability in the running of athletics in Kenya.

Kipchoge Keino, the chairman of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya, condemmed the move. "I am not going to utilise public funds to take a weak team to Sydney," he said. He added that he would present the case to the Kenya Games Steering Committee at their meeting today.

Officially, Kenya's marathon team is selected from performances in the London and Boston marathons. Qualifiers for all other events have to finish in the top three at the national championships in Kenya, which concluded on Saturday.

The Kenyan trials confirmed the vulnerability of established names who were beaten by little-known runners. The world 3,000 metres steeplechase champion, Christopher Kosgei, saw his dreams of Olympic gold dashed as he trailed in a race won by Reuben Kosgei, and Daniel Komen and Simon Maina also failed to qualify.

The Olympic and twice world 10,000m silver medallist Paul Tergat took a gamble by switching to 5,000m but squeezed home in third place.

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