KERICHO - Kenya's reputation for producing gold medal-winning Olympic athletes is taking a hammering after allegations of sex abuse and financial double-dealing at unregulated training camps.
A decision to shut down a top youth camp after reports of sexual abuse laid bare the exploitation facing many young Kenyans desperate to get into athletics and escape poverty.
With the promise of huge earnings, the country has witnessed an explosion in the number of training camps that have no support from the national federation.
Unlike rival Ethiopia, which enjoys a stable national club system, Kenya has no law to regulate these camps.
Kenya has more than 25 clubs with most based in the Rift Valley.
Save for a few that enjoy big corporate support, most of the camps lack basic amenities such as electricity or running water.
Their day-to-day running is usually controlled by one man who acts as trainer, manager, agent and owner of the premises.
Athletics Kenya (AK) chief Isaiah Kiplagat conceded that his organisation has no control over the clubs, but said AK has enacted rules that will soon come into force.
"We have now club rules approved by the AK council and the annual general meeting, but have appointed an implementation committee to see the clubs comply with the rules," Kiplagat said. - Sapa-AFP