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Kenya and Ethiopia criticize IAAF dropping long distance races

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya will launch a formal protest to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) over their move to lock out long distance races from the Diamond League circuit that starts in May in Doha.

Athletics Kenya president Jackson Tuwei says the planned new Diamond League set up for 2020, which will no longer include the 5,000m, was unfair to the region and will lock out many east African athletes and deny them the chance to earn a living.

Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Morocco have dominated the 5,000m and 10,000m races, with foreign exports from the region staking their claims for Qatar, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Bahrain.

"Long distance races on track is where Africa’s strength is and we have been encouraging and getting more athletes to run 5,000m and 10,000m races," Tuwei said in Nairobi on Wednesday.

"You can’t come up with such drastic changes without even informing members in time for them to make adjustments.

"We shall make our presentation to IAAF and hopefully have the decision shelved," he added.

Diamond Trophy winner Hellen Obiri, who was crowned champion at the 3,000m distance, faces having her specialty 5,000m race removed from the program.

She believes the move will deter more local talent from training and competing in the long distance races.

"Why would you train for the 10,000m or the 5,000m if there are no competitions and no compensation in prize money.

"It is useless.

"Now many athletes will jump from the junior ranks to the marathon and that is career threatening," she said.

Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie, who made his fortune running the 10,000m and 5,000m races, called the move discriminatory to the region’s athletes.

He criticized the IAAF for making a backwards step in the development of the sport from 2020 onwards.

"It is a sad decision that will disproportionately affect Ethiopia and Kenya, as well as east Africa as a whole," said Gebrselassie.

Paul Tergat, a former world marathon record holder and currently Kenya’s president for the National Olympic Committee (NOCK), said Africa will suffer from the new rule when it is implemented in 2020.

"We are fighting to have sport remain relevant and attractive to youths as they transition from school.

"Now the IAAF is making it hard for children to select athletics.

"With limited competition, they will opt for other sports," he said.

The Diamond League is the lucrative premier competition for elite athletes. It has 14 legs across Asia, Africa, the U.S. and Europe.

Winners in every discipline in each of the 14 series meeting earn 40,000 U.S. dollars.

Overall winners at the end of the series earn an extra 50,000 dollars and become the world number one in their discipline.

They also earn a direct ticket to the Olympic Games and World Championships.
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UPDATES:

Kenya takes extra measures to send dope free
team to World Cross Country Championships

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya has taken extra steps and anti-doping test in order to send a clean team to the World Cross Country Championships, which will be staged in Denmark on March 30.

With over 60 athletes having been implicated or banned for doping related offense, Athletics Kenya (AK) president Jack Tuwei said they have taken extra measures to only enter athletes with no previous doping history and will pass through any further test done by the organizers and IAAF.

"Anti-doping campaign is serious business in this camp.

"We don’t want to win using cheats.

"Kenya has too many talented athletes to call from and we need to play fair and win clean.

"The war on doping will not be won easily if we don’t keep up to the rule book," said Tuwei after visiting Kenya team training camp in Embu on Friday.

The 30-member Kenya team will also undergo mandatory tests by anti-doping officials to ensure they are clean.

"We have officers from the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya who will be coming here to make sure that you are in good conditions.

"Before you leave for the competition all of you will be required to fill is a consent form that will be used for the World Cross Country but also in all other competitions," said Tuwei.

Head coach John Letting, however, said the doping menace will not water down their chance of defending the titles they last won in Guiyang, China in 2015 and Kampala, Uganda in 2017.

"I know there are several Kenyans, who have failed to stake their claim at home and will be running for their adopted countries.

"It is good for their welfare and for the competition.

"But Kenya will always have the edge and we are doing everything to get just that," said Letting.

Uganda, United States, Qatar, Bahrain, Turkey, Azerbaijan and a few other countries all have former Kenyan athletes and will be keen to sprint past their home country in Denmark.

Tuwei has cautioned the team to be wary of tough competition in Aarhus.

"The athletes are ready and will use the final week to polish their skills before heading to Denmark.

"But the competition is getting stiffer each year.

"You should not allow complacency creep in because a World championship is a very competitive event.

"For example, we have to face Ethiopians, and then Ugandans are also coming up very well not forgetting USA whose team is majorly made of Kenyans," said Tuwei.

Defending senior men’s champion Geoffrey Kamworor has been appointed the team captain and will be leading from the front as he eyes his third title as a senior athlete - having won in Guiyang and Kampala - to add to the one he won as a junior back in 2011 in Punta Umbria, Spain.

"I have been in the national team for the past four editions and for sure this is the strongest team ever," said Kamworor.

"It is not about me but this team is strong and they will help me win."
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World half marathon champion Kamworor eyes gold at worlds

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- World Half marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor said Saturday that he will return to track competition targeting to win the world championships in Doha, Qatar in October.

Kamworor, the New York marathon bronze medalist, said he still has unfinished business on the track before fully turning to the ultimate distance from 2020.

"The Olympics in Tokyo and the world championships in Doha are the two events I intend to compete as a track competitor.

"However, thereafter, I will move fully to the marathon," he said in Embu, eastern Kenya where he is training with the Kenya team to the World Cross Country Championships.

Kamworor, who has won the cross country title on the last two occasions in Guiyang, China in 2015 and Kampala, Uganda in 2017, believes he will be at his peak form to claim his third title in Aarhus, Denmark on March 30.

"I have a strong believe it will be gold for me.

"At the moment it is about team work, but as always the final kilometer is upon each athlete to work his best moves and win," he said.

             

 

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