Kenyan Athletes are Exploited Like 'Slaves' and Qatar is Leading the Way!

For a top-rate salary of US$1,000 a month, Kenyan and other African athletes are being shopped around the world's wealthiest track and field nations in a market that one leading administrator said yesterday was “like trading slaves”.

“It is exploitation,” Isaiah Kiplagat, the president of the Kenyan athletics federation, said. “It is happening with children as young as 15. Young people who aren't qualified to represent themselves are being deceived into changing nationality for a few shillings.”

Qatar is the main destination and the best buyer. Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have also bought up foreign athletes, but athletes' managers approach Europe, too.

José María Odriozola, the president of the Spanish federation, said that he is contacted five or six times a year by agents representing foreign athletes and offering them as potential Spaniards. He said that last year he even had Olusoji Fasuba, the Nigerian who won the 60 metres gold at the World Indoor Championships in Valencia last month, phone him and offer to switch vests and run for Spain.

Alarm bells over the trade in Kenyan distance runners rang loudest at the World Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh last month, when Qatar, a Middle East nation with a population of less than a million and negligible history in distance running, finished third in the men's team event.

It requires nine men to fill a senior cross-country team and although all but one of the Qatar team had Arabic names, according to one European coach “they all looked like Kenyans, they ran like Kenyans and they told you they were Kenyans, too”. What the Qatar team in Edinburgh exposed was the crude exploitation of the rules for athletes to change nationality. These rules were tightened after the World Championships in Paris in 2003, when Stephen Cherono, a Kenyan, won the 3,000 metres steeplechase having changed his name to Saif Saaeed Shaheen and switched nationality to compete for Qatar.

Cherono was deeply unpopular with his fellow Kenyans, although his reported salary - $1,000 a month for the rest of his life, plus significant performance bonuses and endorsements - is more than most of his peers could dream of.

The tightening of the rules by the IAAF, the sport's world governing body, however, merely forced the Qataris to switch from buying established stars to headhunting the most promising juniors. “People are going to Africa and buying young athletes,” Odriozola said. “They go to Kenya and they watch the races and then they make their offers. The selling itself is not big business, but for the managers, if their athletes go on to be successful, they then take 10 to 20 per cent of their incomes. For me, this is immoral. It is like trading slaves.

“In middle and long-distance, there are now at least 20 to 30 Kenyans or Ethiopians who are running at the top level under different flags. In Edinburgh, everyone was saying ‘the Africans are winning everything' but forgetting that Qatar is not Africa.”



Governments should stop this madness

It sickens me to my gut! To think that modern slavary is allowed to thrive in this day and age! so much for the talk about human trafficking. This trafficking is happening to poverty stricken poor children from rural areas who don't any better. Why don't goverments stop this madness?

reckless jerks

The best these Qatari can do for themselves is drive dangerously and literally kill themselves.I doubt if any of those guys in the athletics team is a real Qatari,I know one Yemeni and plenty Kenyans.I Pity this nation.

Maybe lazy lads

I think that it is ridiculous what Qatar is doing by just buying athletes from different countries. If Qatar want to win medals then work for it. How hard is that. I was really laughing when i saw this year Wold Athlete Championship and some Kenyans running under Bahrain or Qatar. What a joke.

If masturbation was a sport

If masturbation was a sport in the Olympics, Qatar would surely get Gold!

Qatari Athlete is like a basketball playing fish

Qataris are the most inbred, lazy and untalented people on earth. Of course they have to pay people to compete for them.

Those fat lazy bastards can only drive around in their land cruisers thinking that they are god's gift to the world. I pity their ignorant blindness.

Have you ever seen a Qatari Athlete..???

Come on, these Qataris are so useless they couldn't even win a medal in the 'Lazy Olympics' the rest of the world thinks they're a joke anyway, especially if they continue the way they are going by isolating themselves from the rest of society by pretending that they're better than everyone else.

At the end of the day they're only cheating themselves aren't they..??

Live and learn people