NAIROBI, Kenya — Former marathon world-record holder Paul Tergat was elected head of the Kenyan Olympic committee on Friday, winning unopposed after the only other candidate was prevented from standing.
The election of the 48-year-old Tergat, an IOC member since 2013, comes amid turmoil at the National Olympic Committee of Kenya.
NOCK has been dealing with the fallout from a corruption scandal around the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics that implicated senior officials who are now facing criminal charges. The body has also been split by infighting over who should be allowed to stand for the position of chairman of NOCK.
The other candidate, Patrick Muya of the Kenyan Swimming Federation, was barred from standing in the election by the members of NOCK.
Incumbent and distance running great Kip Keino had indicated he would run for another term but failed to submit nomination papers. Keino had been head of NOCK since 1999.
Tergat, the two-time Olympic silver medalist in the 10,000 meters, has a difficult task ahead in uniting NOCK and restoring its reputation. He will hope his election convinces the IOC to reinstate Kenya’s funding. The IOC cut all funding after the election was delayed several times at the beginning of the year.
In his acceptance speech, Tergat said it was “the start of a major journey, a journey of transformation and restoration.”
Kenyan athletics and the Olympic committee have been hit hard by a succession of scandals, starting with a string of doping cases in the aftermath of the 2012 London Olympics. Two coaches were sent home from last year’s Rio Games — one after he was implicated in a doping scandal, the other for impersonating an athlete to gain access to the Olympic Village.
After the Rio Games, four senior NOCK officials — two vice presidents, the secretary general and the Rio team leader — were arrested and face criminal charges after $800,000 and sports gear provided by sponsor Nike went missing, according to investigators. The four officials deny the charges.
Two of the officials facing charges, former team leader Stephen Arap Soi and secretary general Francis Kinyili Paul, stood for re-election in their positions in Friday’s elections. Arap Soi’s bid for re-election as deputy treasurer was rejected but Paul was re-elected as secretary general while out on bail, winning back his position by a single vote.
The voting was overseen by an independent arbitrator.