Former Boston champion Moses Tanui sues Kenyan Olympic body

NAIROBI (Aug. 11, 2000) — Members of Kenya's Olympics squad flew out of Nairobi yesterday, leaving disappointed 400-meter hurdles champion Erick Keter still standing in the airport lounge.

But less than three hours later he won a second round in his historic court battle to take part in the Sydney Games.

Commissioner of Assize Alnashir Visram dismissed with costs an application by Kenya Amateur Athletic Association (KAAA) seeking to suspend his order directing the association to include him in the Kenyan team.

And the KAAA immediately faced another body blow when it was revealed that two-time Boston marathon champion Moses Tanui had sued them because he too had been left out of the team.

The athlete also wants KAAA officials Isaiah Kiplagat (chairman), David Okeyo (secretary-general) and his deputy Ibrahim Hussein Kipkemboi to be restrained from publishing anything that could adversely affect his career.

In an affidavit filed at Eldoret High Court on Wednesday, he said reports attributed to the three had portrayed him as "dishonest and not morally upright, ill disciplined, a self seeker, lazy and arrogant."

Lawyer Paul Gicheru argued that the statements were malicious, false, calculated to injure Tanui and cause him financial damage and prejudice his career and livelihood.

Tanui also demands that the three publish an apology on a prominent page of the four daily newspapers. He is seeking general, exemplary, punitive and aggravated damages.

Tanui said under KAAA rules, the two best-placed Kenyans at the Boston marathon were eligible to be selected to represent their country at the Olympics.

He said he was informed by Okeyo that he had been selected to represent Kenya in the marathon at Sydney and ordered not to run in any other marathon until the Games. He claims he acknowledged receipt of his selection letter, expressed his willingness to run and immediately intensified practice.

He said while in training, Okeyo and Kipkemboi publicly announced his selection, yet he was dropped from the team together with Elijah Lagat and Japheth Kosgey.

Meanwhile, in Nairobi, Commissioner Visram gave the KAAA permission to appeal against his ruling.

He said he was satisfied the balance of convenience tilted in favour of Keter, who could suffer enormous and irreparable harm if the stay was granted.

Noting that the damage to Keter could not be quantified, he said this could be his last chance to take part in the world's greatest athletics event.

"If I stop him from going, I will bring an end to his dreams and aspirations and deny this nation to be represented by the best that it has. And if I let him go, what does this really mean to the defendants?," Visram said.

He added: "This case is not about money, damages and substantial loss. It is about one qualifying citizen proven right to represent his country."

He also said the KAAA had not shown how his ruling would make other dissatisfied athletes rush to court and how the administration of athletics would be adversely affected.

The Commissioner asked whether it was the act of going to court in pursuit of justice which would affect the administration of justice, or the unjust acts of administrators that would adversely affect the administration of athletics.

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