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Ethiopia: Kenenisa Bekele says Olympic marathon selection was biased and unjust

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Kenenisa Bekele took a swipe at the Ethiopian Athletics Federation on Wednesday after he was left off the marathon team for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, calling his exclusion “unjust” and claiming the selection criteria is “biased.”Kenenisa Bekele took a swipe at the Ethiopian Athletics Federation

In an interview with The Associated Press after the EAF confirmed Bekele wasn’t part of the four-man team for Rio, Bekele said athletes were informed way too late that they must run in at least two major marathons in the 12 months before the team was picked to be eligible.

“I am very disappointed by the announcement that the Ethiopian Athletics Federation made about the selection of athletes competing in [the] marathon,” Bekele said in an interview at his office in Addis Ababa. “The selection process was biased and the result unjust.”

The federation’s decision to leave out Bekele, the world-record holder and three-time Olympic champion in the 5000m and 10,000m, was a major surprise.

EAF secretary general Bililign Mekoya told Ethiopian television on Tuesday, when Bekele’s absence was confirmed, that “the requirements we set are clear.”

“In Kenenisa’s case, he hasn’t met the requirements, so he couldn’t make it to Rio,” he said.

Bekele missed most of the last year with an Achilles injury. He returned from that lengthy layoff to finish third at the London Marathon in April. That’s the only marathon he’s run in the last year, although he won the Great Manchester Run 10km last month.

“We were told of the selection criteria too late in the year for us to try and meet any one of them,” Bekele said. “This affected me and a number of other fellow athletes. I cannot get the chance to compete [at the Olympics] now, and there is nothing I can do about it.”

At least 12 athletes have protested to the federation over the selection criteria, although Bekele isn’t one of those yet. Bililign, the EAF secretary general, said athletes are able to lodge protests.

Bekele was one of the greats at 5000m and 10,000m. He has followed in the footsteps of another of Ethiopia’s favorites, Haile Gebrselassie, by switching to the marathon in search of Olympic success at the longer distance.

Bekele won his debut marathon in Paris in 2014 before his injury struggles last year.

2 comments

  1. Tigres or Woyanes have sanctified and consecrated corruption, graft, bribery, racketeering, fraud, extortion and malfeasance in office. Those sycophant Tigre who throw lavish parties in the world’s capitals for the glorification of TPLF/Tigrai and Tigres at the cost of millions of dollars a year on liquor and exotic caviar while their people are dying by the thousands for lack of food, water and simple medicines are on the wrong side of history. When the faces of the people are etched with tear tracks of sorrow from years of suffering witnessing their children die and those who survive live without a future, you know their oppressors are on the wrong side of history. When your ship of state is pirated by Tigre/Woyane criminal thugs and its crew and passengers forced headlong into the raging storms of ethnic hatred, the gathering clouds of famine and the mighty tide of war, you know those who are on the wrong side of history are on the cusp of receiving the verdict of history. Those Tigres/Woyanes who sneer at international law and public opinion, give away a nation’s territory in a secret transaction, hammer the people with a clenched fist and infect them with a lingering sickness of fear and despair, you know it is just a matter of time before the judgment of history falls upon them and they are swept into its dustbin.

  2. Mecha Qillitu Tulema

    The authoritarian regime is famous for coming up with a policy over night without parliaments genuine approval to its advantage, EAF’s requirements that came out later than earlier is not a surprise to Ethiopians. They do what ever they want in that country literarily at a gun point or imprisonment. They probably want Kennenisa to leave the country for any possible 100 reasons such as he is an Oromo, he doesn’t support the repressive Weyane regime, he is not making monetary contributions, you name it. WELL, he is better of staying away from RIO any ways :-)

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