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Turmoil brews in Ethiopian camp ahead of Olympic Games

Tuesday June 7 2016

Ethiopian athletics legend Haile Gebrselassie smiles on October 20, 2013 before Ethiopia's first-ever marathon in Hawassa. PHOTO | JENNY VAUGHAN |

Ethiopian athletics legend Haile Gebrselassie smiles on October 20, 2013 before Ethiopia's first-ever marathon in Hawassa. PHOTO | JENNY VAUGHAN |  AFP

AYUMBA AYODI
By AYUMBA AYODI
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Ethiopia athletics could be headed for turmoil after legendary Haile Gebrselassie led active and former athletes and coaches to a meeting on Tuesday to discuss Rio Olympic selection and poor management by their athletics federation.

The meeting held at Addis Ababa Stadium, with over 80 young and senior athletes in attendance, including the 2004 and 2008 Olympic 10,000m champion Kenenisa Bekele who had earlier protested his exclusion from the marathon team for Rio Olympics.

“Ethiopian Athletes are fighting for their rights. Meeting is going in Addis Abba Stadium related to Rio team selection and the athletics federation’s poor management of issues,” Ethiopian journalist Konjit Teshome posted on her Facebook account Tuesday.

“Many Legendary athletes and coaches are attending the meeting,” Teshome wrote, adding that the athletes who were named in the team for Rio Olympics didn’t attended the meeting.

“We know the reason why they didn’t come today. The want....but they can’t,” Gebrselassie told Teshome in an interview.

Bekele took a swipe at the Ethiopian Athletics Federation on June 1 after he was left off the marathon team for the Olympics. He termed his exclusion from the squad “unjust” and claimed the selection criteria was biased.

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Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s world 1500m champion Genzebe Dibaba has withdrawn from the Dream Mile at Thursday’s Diamond League meeting in Oslo, organisers have said.

Dibaba, 25, had been expected to try to break the world record for the mile, a non-Olympic distance given mythical status by middle-distance runners. Russian Svetlana Masterkova set the current record of 4min 12.56sec in Zurich in 1996.

Oslo organisers gave no reason for Dibaba’s withdrawal. Dibaba is also slated to try to improve her own 1500m world record of 3:50.07 in the Diamond League meeting in Stockholm on June 16.

Additional reporting by AFP

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