Kip Keino, Kenyan Olympic legend, says charges against him dropped, has been released

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NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Running great Kip Keino said Friday that charges against him in a Kenyan Olympic corruption case have been dropped and he has been released.

The honorary IOC member tells The Associated Press that he still needs to appear in court on Tuesday — with speculation that he may now be a witness in the case — but no longer faces charges of corruption and abuse of office relating to the alleged misuse of more than $545,000 around the time of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

“They have dropped the charges against me,” Keino told the AP.

He said he “just left the court” in Nairobi where he had been expected to be charged earlier Friday. The 78-year-old two-time Olympic champion surrendered to police on Thursday.

He had earlier denied wrongdoing in an interview with the AP, saying he had no control over the money prosecutors allege was embezzled and misappropriated.

Keino was one of seven Kenyan Olympic and government officials initially accused of corruption and abuse of office in prosecution documents released last weekend. It threatened the reputation of one of track and field’s most revered figures.

The six others, including Kenya’s former sports minister and the current secretary general of the country’s Olympic committee, have all been charged and face trial next month. The allegations of corruption reach the upper levels of the Kenyan government, with high-ranking political figures charged.

It relates to the alleged embezzlement and misappropriation of more than half a million dollars before and during the Rio Games. Keino was president of the Kenyan Olympic committee from 1999 until last year.

Prosecutors had said Keino oversaw a Kenyan Olympic expedition to Rio where more than $300,000 was wasted, some of it spent on joy rides and family members of officials who had nothing to do with the team but were given air tickets and tens of thousands of dollars in allowances.

More than $200,000 simply disappeared and was embezzled, the prosecutors say.

In the phone interview with the AP before he was due in court, Keino denied involvement and appeared to blame the former officials in the government’s sports ministry.

“I was not writing any government checks,” Keino said. “It’s their people who did it. That’s what I know.”

Three former sports ministry officials, including former minister of sport Hassan Wario, were charged with corruption and abuse of office Friday. They denied the charges and were released on $10,000 cash bail each. The three others were charged Monday.

Wario is now Kenya’s ambassador to Austria, while another defendant, his former sports ministry colleague Richard Ekai, was recently appointed ambassador to Russia. Ekai requested his passport back on Monday to present his ambassadorial credentials in Russia. He was denied.

Wario, a member of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s cabinet at the time of the alleged offenses, was dressed in a suit and wore a fez-like hat in court as he was charged with six counts relating to the mismanagement of public money. The court also denied his request to have his passport released so he could continue his job in Austria.

The judge said the trial will start next month.

John Kariuki, head of the Kenyan police’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations, said they were “reviewing” the possibility that Keino would become a witness.

Keino didn’t address whether he would be a witness or not when confirming he had been released.

In one of the initial accusations against him, prosecutors say Keino gave his son nearly $25,000 and included him in Kenya’s official Rio Games delegation.

Keino, a former policeman, was the forerunner for generations of Kenyan middle- and long-distance champions when he won gold in the 1500m at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. He broke the Olympic record despite struggling with illness in the days before the race.

He was also the Olympic champion four years later in Munich in the 3000m steeplechase.

His performances inspired countless Kenyan champions and his reputation was enhanced by his humanitarian work in his home country, where he has built schools and a home for orphans. He is probably Kenya’s most respected sportsman, loved for his success but also for his humble origins — poor and orphaned at a young age — that resonate with so many, not just distance-running hopefuls.

Because of that humanitarian work, Keino was the first recipient of the International Olympic Committee’s Olympic Laurel award in 2016 and was honored at the Opening Ceremony of the Rio Games. Keino and former IOC president Jacques Rogge are the only two people to receive the award.

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VIDEO: Bolt scores first 2 goals for pro soccer team; decision next

12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

Chloe Covell
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At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

Francesco Friedrich
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A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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