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Top ministry officials stole Sh88m from Rio Olympics, probe report reveals

Top officials in the Sports ministry embezzled Sh88 million meant for air tickets to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, a probe into one of Kenya’s most controversial sporting outings shows.

Those found culpable will be prosecuted if recommendations of a tribunal which investigated the debacle are adopted.

The report, by the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games Probe Committee, was handed to President Uhuru Kenyatta by Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario last week.

It also expresses concern over the misappropriation of funds paid to the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock) by American sportswear manufacturer Nike, which supplies training and competition uniforms to Kenyan teams.

Information obtained by the Nation on Thursday revealed that the investigating team, led by Strathmore University Dean of Students Paul Ochieng, discovered that Sh88,611,480 meant for air tickets to the August event was misappropriated.

NIKE CONTRACT

The team recommended that action be taken against the culprits in the disappearance of the cash at the Ministry of Sports, Culture and the Arts. It also said Nock should account for the Sh126 million per year it receives from Nike on behalf of athletes.

Sources said President Kenyatta is expected to make the report public and announce measures to be taken against those adversely mentioned in it.

According to the investigating team, an eight-year (2013-2020) contract between Nock and Nike needs an overhaul as it is heavily skewed in favour of the American sportswear manufacturer.

The committee also recommends professional selection of Kenya’s future teams to international competition as the one for the Rio Games was unfair, “especially in rugby and track and field”.

Despite a series of management blunders, Kenya bagged its biggest ever medal haul at the Olympics held in Brazil, winning six gold, six silver and one bronze medals.

MEDALS RECORD

This performance broke the previous record of six gold, four silver and four bronze medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Nock assistant treasurer Stephen Soi, treasurer Fridah Shiroya and vice-chairman Pius Ochieng, along with secretary Francis Kinyili Paul, have since appeared in court to answer to charges related to the Games.

On Thursday, sources said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter that cash bonuses from Nike for Olympic and Commonwealth Games medal winners had never reached the athletes.

Nike gives $15,000 (Sh1.5 million) to Nock for each gold medal won at the Olympic Games, $7,500 (Sh750,000) for silver and $5,000 (Sh500,000) for bronze.

“Even though the cash is payable to Nock, a large percentage of such bonus payment must trickle down to the individual athletes winning these medals,” said a source privy to the discussions that led to the signing of the Nike deal with Nock.

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