With barely three days left before the official start of the Africa Triathlon Championship in Egypt, questions are being asked about how the list of the Kenyan squad of five elite athletes was arrived at.
Team Kenya’s trip to Egypt has been soaked in controversy with allegations that the local federation, Kenya Triathlon Federation (KTF), could have solicited for bribes from some players in exchange for a place in the squad.
The team left Nairobi on June 1, a day earlier than the initial travelling date.
The team selection is such an emotive issue that the matter even found itself before a three-bench panel at the Sports Disputes Tribunal.
The tribunal allowed the team to travel to Sharm El Sheikh on grounds that money had been spent.
The championship will act as an Olympic qualifiers will run from June 11 to 13.
Ordinarily, Olympic qualifiers should be funded by the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) but the clandestine nature in which the Egyptian trip was organized is now raising more questions.
It is now emerging that parents and relatives of some participants were asked to foot travel and accommodation related costs contrary to standard practice.
In a conversation seen by SPORTS AFRICA, Olympia Jelagat, mother to Joseph Okal, revealed that she was asked to part with visa and accommodation fees after Okal was included in the squad.
Okal, captain William Nanjero and Ted Mwatha were included in the squad despite the fact that they trio never took part in the national championship whose results were used to pick the participants.
Also included in the team is Josette Njeri, daughter of the KTF interim president Joyceline Nyambura.
“I got communication that Joseph was selected to attend a training camp in Watamu (between May 25-30) with those going to Egypt for the African Triathlon Championship in June as a substitute,” said Jelagat.
“They said that they did trials last year in November that we did not participate in because of covid-19.
“They said that he had been given sponsorship by World Triathlon for the ticket and accommodation for five days, but because they were leaving on June 1, he needed to pay for his visa fee and accommodation from June 1-8. We have sent the visa documents,” said Jelagat in a secret conversation between her and Okal’s coach seen by Standard Sport.
The federation has remained tight lipped on the matter with Nyambura only threatening the media with legal suit if anyone dares publish the story.
“If you want to write on the federation then do a letter requesting for a permission, otherwise I will instruct my lawyer to take up the matter,” threatened Nyambura when we reached out for comment.
Jelagat, however, admitted in the conversation with the coach that she was asked to pay for visa and accommodation fees, declined to shed more light on the content of that discussion when reached out for comment.
But when contacted, Jelagat termed the allegations as “malicious”.
“The matter is in court and I would rather reserve my comments but I think those who are raising this issue are just malicious.
Ted and Nanjero have never attended any of the KTF in the last two years, same as Okal who, according to some sources, has never trained since 2019 but he still made the cut.
Our sources alleges that he was only picked because his mother is good friends with the acting president.
When pressed to explain how his name found itself in the traveling squad despite the fact that he is a mare recreational athlete, Nanjero, who trains in the same club with head coach Lydia Camilla, did not respond to a WhatsApp message while Secretary General Solonik Ole Koyiet failed to return our call by the time.