NAIROBI, Kenya – The IAAF said Sunday its ethics commission will investigate corruption allegations against a member of its decision-making council from Kenya, a country already under scrutiny for its doping record.
The IAAF had alerted its ethics commission to the allegations made by British newspaper The Sunday Times, a spokesman for the world athletics body told The Associated Press in an email. Council member David Okeyo is accused along with two other senior Kenyan athletics officials of taking nearly $700,000 given to their national federation by sponsor Nike.
Okeyo, who is also a vice president of Kenya's athletics federation, is under investigation in Kenya alongside Athletics Kenya President Isaiah Kiplagat and Joseph Kinyua, the federation's former treasurer.
In a report that threatens to unleash another damaging scandal for the IAAF, The Sunday Times said the three took most of the money in cash from the federation's accounts. Kiplagat is a former IAAF council member and was a candidate for an IAAF vice president position in elections in August. He lost out in a vote. Okeyo took his place on the IAAF council.
"The IAAF was not aware of the investigation into Mr. Okeyo in Kenya and the information has immediately been passed on to the independent IAAF Ethics Commission," the IAAF spokesman said in his email.
Okeyo is a member of the IAAF's governing council that voted Friday to suspend Russia from international competition over allegations contained in a World Anti-Doping Agency report that the country engineered a state-sponsored program to cover up doping by its athletes. That report followed the revelation that former IAAF president Lamine Diack was under criminal investigation in France, suspected of taking bribes to cover up Russian doping tests.
Kenyan athletics is already under pressure following a surge in doping cases among its world-beating distance runners and accusations the federation has not done enough to combat it, or worse still might be complicit in concealing it.
The three Kenyans were questioned by police over the accusations of corruption and state prosecutors are considering whether to proceed with criminal prosecutions, Kenya's director of public prosecutions Keriako Tobiko told the AP.
Okeyo said that the three had cooperated with investigations and declined to comment further. Kinyua, the former federation treasurer who is also accused, said the allegations were "old."
"It's over and I don't understand why they are bringing it up now," he said.
Some of the alleged wrongdoing dates back as far as 2003, the Sunday Times said.
In response to the allegations against Okeyo, the IAAF said the appointments of more than 200 people to positions on IAAF committees and advisory groups would be delayed until they could be "duly vetted and declared as 'fit and proper persons' to hold office."
AP writer Tom Odula contributed to this report. Imray reported from Somerset West, South Africa.