David Okeyo, a former top Kenyan athletics official, has been banned from track and field for life and fined $50,000 as punishment for his part in diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars of Nike sponsorship funds for his and others’ personal use.
Okeyo, who was also an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Council member, was suspended from his roles in 2015 pending an investigation into financial corruption involving him and two other officials — former Athletics Kenya president Isaiah Kiplagat and former AK treasurer Joseph Kinyua.
On Thursday, an ethics court in the East African nation found Okeyo guilty of taking money intended “to support the development of the sport of athletics in Kenya,” violating IAAF’s ethics code on 10 occasions dating back to 2004.
“In the view of the panel the pattern of conduct warrants serious sanction to establish the firm principle that federation officials must act scrupulously and transparently in managing the finances of their federations in order to protect the name and reputation of the sport of athletics,” the three-member panel wrote in their decision.
In total, the court determined the officials withdrew $1.2 million from AK’s accounts over nearly a decade, depositing it into a separate account they controlled. Several hundred thousand of that remains unaccounted for.
“Nike takes very seriously the IAAF report’s conclusion that Athletics Kenya officials improperly diverted Nike sponsorship funds from the federation,” the brand told FN on Friday. “Nike conducts its business with integrity and expects that our partners do the same.”
The decision is the latest chapter in a relationship that’s been plagued by scandal and corruption, involving a team of some of the fastest runners in the world, the powerful officials charged with leading them and the world’s largest sportswear corporation.
In 2016, a New York Times investigation found Nike allegedly made a half-million dollar payment to Kenyan officials, which was immediately withdrawn and kept off the books, and which a whistleblower had characterized as a bribe to keep Kenya from signing with a Chinese clothing company. FN has reached out to Nike for comment.
Of the other officials involved, Kiplagat died in 2016, and Kinyua also dodged punishment because he wasn’t bound by the IAAF’s code of ethics at the time. Okeyo is also under investigation in an extortion case involving athlete doping.