Team Kenya’s chef de mission to the Rio Olympics Stephen Arap Soi (pictured above right) has come out to defend National Olympics Committee of Kenya (NOCK) officials who alongside himself have been blamed for mishandling the team before, during and after the games.
NOCK secretary-general Francis K Paul, his deputy James Chacha and Soi were arrested upon return from Brazil as police embarked on investigations to possible offences of theft of kits, abuse of office and neglect of duty.
The three held a briefing yesterday where they disavowed the scandal that overshadowed Team Kenya’s best performance at the Olympics ever and put the blame on the Ministry of Sports.
“We had nothing to do with what happened in Rio and we are ready to be probed alongside the ministry to prove our innocence. We lead a team that gave the best performance ever and the accusations labeled against us were not our doing but that of the ministry,” Soi expressed.
Tabling a document that shows that the Ministry signed a contract on August 1 2016 for 192 air tickets costing more than Sh 2.4million, Soi opines that the contract should be investigated as part of the team to Rio had already travelled by then adding that this could lead to answers on the missing funds.
When questioned on why they are giving their response to the matter ten months after the games, Soi was quick to blame the hostility of the media at the time of accusations.
‘We were never given a chance to argue our case. We were whisked from the airport even without proper checkout. The turmoil we went through after that was unbearable and the media was too hostile on us.
We had to deal with the court cases first,” he explained. Rio was characterised by missing flight tickets, accreditation and passport for some athletes, lack of accreditation for coaches and proper accommodation for some officials as well as complaints of under kitting.
In a bizarre twist NOCK officers of the Directorate of Criminal Investigation police unit arrested vice president Ben Ekumbo at his home in Nairobi in November and kits were recovered.
“What the public should know is that those kits were the regular kits from Nike and not the Olympics kit. That is what the police found at Ekumbo’s house,” Soi defended incidence despite no such explanation having been offered before.
In last year’s edition, Kamusinga from Bungoma trounced Mukumu from Kakamega 31-16 to book a place in national championship and the two are expected to push each other to the very end once more.