IAAF Council member David Okeyo has maintained that the Nike deal with Athletics Kenya (AK), which is now a matter of investigation by the sports governing body ethics commission, was above board and executed with integrity.
David Okeyo, the Athletics Kenya vice president, Isaiah Kiplagat, the president and Joseph Kinyua, the former treasurer, the signatories of the Federation's account then, were earlier in the year questioned by detectives over allegations that they had pocketed funds from the sponsorship deal with their partner Nike.
Okeyo, who was the secretary general of AK in 2012 when about Sh71.4 million ($700,000 or 650,000 Euros) was purportedly siphoned from the Federation’s account, told Sportsnewsarena.com on Monday that the allegations were made by a disgruntled former employee.
"The said contract was above board and was executed with integrity. There was no embezzlement of funds by the secretary general as alleged at all," said Okeyo.
"The funds are fully accounted for by Athletics Kenya and approved by the Annual General Meeting having gone through the auditing process," he added.
Okeyo said he would not delve into the allegations to avoid preempting a matter that is now under investigations.
“I await the investigations that may be undertaken and respond to all issues that may be raised by IAAF in the appropriate forum. Some of the statements and comments are preemptive and would request the media to wait for the due process to take its course,” said Okeyo.
On Sunday, the IAAF released a statement ‘that they were not aware of the investigation into Mr Okeyo in Kenya and the information has immediately been passed on to the independent IAAF ethics commission’.
Okeyo was selected as the Africa’s representative on the council after the elections in Beijing, an exercise that had locked out Isaiah Kiplagat who failed to capture the hoped IAAF vice president seat or retain his member position.
Kiplagat was nonetheless more forthcoming with information on the alleged embezzlement brought to fore by Matthews Kiprono Kiptum, a former statistician at the federation.
Claims by a disgruntled employee
According to an affidavit seen by the Sunday Times and ARD/WDR, Mathew Kiptum claimed he tried to raise the concerns with Kiplagat who was indisposed to discuss the matter further.
“I am surprised that this old matter brought up by a disgruntled employee has come up again now. Mathew was our employee who instead ended up robbing the association and abusing his position,” Kiplagat claimed.
He contended that Kiptum whom they also relied on for the Federations banking transactions, was sacked after they discovered that he was clandestinely acting as an athletes’ agent abusing the access of information he had at Riadha House.
“He handled statistics and was privy to athletes’ information and in turn he became and agent without us knowing.
He knew the athletes,the race organizers and was even earning commission as an agent. He even got tickets on credit from our travel agent. We only came to know when the travel agent came to demand for payment for tickets Mathew had requested,” said Kiplagat.
“So this Nike issue he had access to the contracts and emails which I believe he tried to use to get back to us,” added Kiplagat on Kiptum who reported the alleged scam to Kenya police and shared with the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission.
Sticky Nike contract
Kiplagat maintains that the honoraria payment was clearly detailed in the Nike/AK contract which was a facilitation fee for its officials.
“The honoraria payment was simply money that AK officials used to cater for tickets and accommodation to some events and championships like the IAAF Diamond Leagues. If it was a dubious payment it would not be listed in the contract.”
Sportsnewsarena.com was unable to reach Kiptum to verify Kiplagat’s assertions.
Nike’s contract extension with AK had been in doubt with Chinese sports wear Li-Ning lined up as possible replacement. In July 2010, AK even signed a 10 million USD (Ksh 1billion) for six years that was to run through 2016.
However, five months later AK revoked the contract with Li-Ning over what it cited as ‘legal issues with the termination of its standing contract with Nike’.
Nike are also the official kit sponsors for the National Olympic Committee of Kenya, an issue that may have complicated the involvement with Li-Ning.
The Li-Ning deal had been secured by Pamodzi Sports Marketing owned by Papa Massata Diack, the former IAAF marketing consultant, who is also currently under investigation over allegations of the cover-up of systematic doping in Russia.