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Kenya Track Officials Plan Schedule

February 17, 2000

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ Calling the performance by Kenya’s track and field athletes as ``shameful″ at the 1996 Olympics, the country’s officials are trying to avoid a repeat at the Sydney Games.

To try and prevent a recurrence, Kenyan and international track and field officials will meet with agents for the nation’s top runners to work out when and where they will race before Sydney.

Kenya Amateur Athletic Association secretary general David Okeyo said all 17 licensed representatives of the Kenyan athletes were expected at the meeting Friday.

Sandro Giovannelli, competition director of the International Amateur Athletic Federation, which oversees the lucrative Golden League meets in Europe, also is expected to attend.

Okeyo said the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the number of Golden League races each athlete would participate in to avoid ``burning themselves out″ before the Summer Games.

Kip Keino, chairman of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya and 1,500-meter gold medalist at the 1968 Olympics and 3,000-meter steeplechase gold medalist at the 1972 Munich Games, wants Kenya’s Olympic team to train together at high altitude before going to Sydney.

``The Olympic Games take place every four years; why can’t the athletes sacrifice their time for the benefit of their country like we used to do in our days,″ Keino said.

Before the 1996 Olympics, where Keino was the chief of the Kenyan track and field team, he dropped Okeyo as team manager as well as his assistant, accusing the KAAA of cooperating with agents to spirit runners out of Kenya without his knowledge to participate in the European IAAF circuit.

``What happened in Atlanta was there for everybody to see,″ Keino said. ``After being overworked by the agents, our athletes got only one gold medal (Joseph Keter in the 3,000-meter steeplechase), which was shameful.″

Among the leading representatives of Kenyan runners are Kim McDonald of Britain, Walter Abmayr of Germany, a former coach of the Kenyan team, and Jos Hermens of The Netherlands, who also represents Ethiopian Olympic and world 10,000-meters champion Haile Gebrselassie.

``The move is aimed at ensuring that we do well at the Sydney Olympics,″ Okeyo said. ``No athlete should feel that we’re interfering with their personal programs. We also want them to make a living through athletics.″

Foreign agents pay $1,000 for a license to represent Kenyan runners. Keino warned that if they go against Friday’s decision on the runners’ programs, their licenses would be revoked.

Several top runners, who asked that their names not be used, said the KAAA should not dictate the number of races they should run, particularly since the Kenyan government does not reward them for their achievements.

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