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NAIROBI - Bahrain's Kenyan-born runner Abel Cheruiyot, one of the first star athletes to defect from the east African nation to the oil-rich Arabian state, was set to be buried in his country of birth yesterday.
Cheruiyot, who took the Muslim name of Abel Yagoot Jowhar after changing his nationality in 2004, died in mysterious circumstances in Portugal last month. His Kenyan relatives said the runner fell off his hotel balcony.
Cheruiyot was one of two Kenyan athletes, the other being Leonard Mucheru, who caused a stir when they competed for Bahrain at the World Military Games in Catania, Italy, in December 2003.
Their decision drew sharp criticism from the Kenyan athletics authorities but the pair were officially granted their wishes by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) council at its meeting in Athens, Greece, in March 2004.
The council accepted their change of citizenship though they were found to have broken the mandatory three-year rule between competing for Kenya and Bahrain.
Mucheru, who became Moshir Salim Jawhar, was stripped of his Bahraini passport after taking part and winning the Tiberias marathon in Israel last weekend.
The Bahrain Athletics Association said Jawhar had violated the laws of the Gulf country and broken the rules when he went to Israel without telling anyone. - Sapa-AFP