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Kenyan athletes in race against time

Nairobi: Top Kenyans Paul Tergat and Moses Tanui are leading a battle against their national federation Athletics Kenya over a requirement that all the country’s runners be registered.

Athletics Kenya has given a January 31 deadline for all names to be registered at its headquarters.“They must do that or we won’t enter them in international competitions next year,” Isaiah Kiplagat, Athletics Kenya chairman, said Thursday.

“This is a globally-accepted practice which all the athletes must abide by or they lose Athletics Kenya’s recognition. We want to monitor our athletes so that wherever they run, we follow their performance.”

But five-time world cross country champion Tergat and former Boston Marathon winner Tanui oppose the idea if it will restrict them.

“If they want to know our numbers in order to set up a scheme that will help athletes in retirement or when in problems, then we welcome the idea,” said Tergat. “But we won’t accept the requirement if it is to restrict athletes’ free movement.”

He added: “The athletes’ effort must be appreciated by all. They have surmounted great hurdles to attain world-class status, yet there is no reciprocal effort by the government or the federation to motivate and recognise this effort.”

Tanui said the idea, tried previously, had failed because the federation had tried to demand part of athletes’ earnings. “If that is the purpose for which it has been revived, we shall oppose it to the bitter end,” he said.

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