The nightmare of age cheating returned to haunt Athletics Kenya on Monday as it emerged that Paul Mutero, second in the junior men’s eight-kilometre race at last weekend’s national trials, was actually over-age and ineligible to compete in that category at next month’s World Cross Country Championships in Poland.
He has been reprimanded by forfeiting his position to seventh placed Clement Lagat.
At the same time, afraid of the uneasiness and competition amongst fellow athletes, AK has opted to drop World Junior 5,000m silver medallist Mathew Kisorio from the senior men’s team.
Kisorio, who finished in position 20, had been named in the team through the coaches’ wild card.
But AK’s top officials were not ready to risk another episode of rivalry in camp as they seek to quell tension so as the athletes can focus on training.
“I am now relaxed now that the decision has been made early enough. I can now sit down with my agent and discuss my next race. But it is not true that I am injured and will not recover in time for the world cross country championship. “It is true I stepped on some stones that left my foot sore. But it was that much and it has since healed.
“Today, I was able to train normally and there is no problem with the foot. As I said, I don’t know what happened to me during the race, it was never to be my day,” said Kisorio.
AK chairman Isaiah Kiplagat, while making the changes in the team, said they were not ready to gamble on Kisorio’s fitness and will have to trust the other athletes to carry the national flag high in Bydgoszcz, Poland, on March 28.
With the exclusion of Kisorio, Kenya’s men senior team’s team will have Paul Tanui, Lucas Rotich, Joseph Ebuya, Hosea Macharinyang, Leonard Komon and Richard Mateelong.
Now the full team has the required 24 athletes.
On age cheating, Kiplagat said Kenya is being looked at differently by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) especially after it was earlier implicated in the scam.
“We have to take stern action to curb this scam. We will spare the athlete involved but his coach Francis Kamau and team manager (Central Province) Peter Ndirangu have since been suspended from handling any athletics activities,” said Kiplagat.
The junior race is eligible for athletes not over 18 years and Mutero’s passport has recorded his year of birth as 1990.
“We are disappointed that our own coaches are involved in cheating. For what gain do they expect,” wondered Kiplagat.