Kenyan Olympic medalist denies receiving Rio 2016 overseas bonus
Nairobi, Dec 2 (IANS) A Kenyan athlete on Friday denied receiving over $7,600 in overseas allowances from the government despite not competing in the Rio 2016 Olympics Games in Brazil.
London 2012 Olympics men 5000m bronze winner, Thomas Pkemei Longosiwa, was among four runners listed in the government-appointed Rio 2016 Probe Committee findings as having received allowances fraudulently without making the travelling party for the August Summer Games in Brazil, reports Xinhua.
Stung by the reports, Longosiwa said he was ready to produce his bank statements to prove he did not receive any overseas allowances complaining his name may have been used to withdraw money from the Kenyan Olympics kitty by wayward officials at the Ministry of Sports, Arts and Culture.
Longosiwa, 34, who won bronze at the 2015 All African Games was called up in the provisional squad for the Rio Games but did not make the final cut, admitting he was paid local allowances and receiving some official Team Kenya kit.
“This is meant to tarnish my name and I will not allow anyone to get away with using athletes for selfish gain. Initially, I was called for the camp but eventually there was no communication from the officials as to whether or not I was part of the team.
“How can they say I was paid oversees allowances yet I didn’t know about their travel arrangements?” the bitter long distance runner lamented.
“They kept telling me I was going (to Rio) until the last minute when they were issuing flight tickets. It is only then that I found out that they did not have my ticket. I sought clarification from Coach Julius Kirwa who assured me that my issue would be resolved and that it was merely a hitch. They took me round in circles until I finally realised I wasn’t going to travel,” he claimed.
“I would like the truth to come out, because this is really soiling my name. Everyone should carry his or her own cross. Whenever I tried inquiring about the travelling issue I was treated coldly as an enemy.
“I thought and said to myself that I’m not an upcoming athlete and have been in this field for a long time, so I could not cry over not travelling to the Olympics,” Longosiwa who made the provisional squad by finishing fourth at the Kenyan Olympics Trials in July, added.
The probe committee report that is yet to be officially released cited him alongside All-Africa Games 400m silver medalist Boniface Mweresa, Kiprono Kosgei and government official Maurine Mutuku as having received overseas allowances yet they did not travel to Brazil.
However, the government official who fell ill on the eve of travelling to Rio, returned her money to the state.