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Probe into export of top junior athlete to Bahrain

30 July 2014, 19:43

Nairobi - The country has launched investigations on how its younger athletes are switching allegiance to oil-rich Arab country of Bahrain.

The country was incensed when Kenya-turned Bahraini Ruth Jebet turned up at the World Junior Championships in Eugene, Oregon in the U.S. and ran away with the 3,000m steeplechase gold leaving Kenyans in the dust of her sprint.

Jebet won the women 3,000m steeplechase event in 9:36.74 with Kenyans Rosefline Chepgentich taking silver ahead of compatriot Daisy Jepkemei.

"We were shocked to find our athlete carrying another countries' flag. As far as we are concerned, she was training here with our athletes and competing in our championships with a Kenyan passport. But she surprised us all lining up in the race with a Bahraini Passport. We are commencing the investigation, to know the circumstance under which those athletes who represented Bahrain and who are behind it," said Jack Tuwei, Athletics Kenya Vice-President in-charge of Youth Development.

"She is in our school and training with our people. We will team up with the Ministry of Sports and Ministry of Education to see how this happened and who sanctioned her switch."

Many Kenyans have ditched the red, white and black colours of the national flag in exchange for millions of dollars from Arab countries.

Ordinarily, it is easy to understand because most have to struggle from a chocking field and only a few get the chance to get a call to national team.

Jebet took the opportunity to run for Bahrain at the age of 16, transferring her eligibility in February 2013. In April she won the 3,000 metres and the 5,000 metres at the Kenyan high school championships.

The teenager excelled in her debut outing for Bahrain, coming second in the 3,000 metres steeplechase to Moroccan Olympian Salima El Ouali Alami at the 2013 Arab Athletics Championships.

Her time of 9:52.47 minutes was a Bahraini national record for the event. She improved upon her own mark that July at the 2013 Asian Athletics Championships, where she seized the lead from the start and never relinquished her position

"Athletics Kenya and sports ministry were never involve in the transfer of allegiance of Jebet. That is why we launched a formal complain to International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)," said Tuwei.

 - Xinhua


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