Nairobi: Three top Kenyan Olympics officials have been arrested as investigators probe allegations of mismanagement and corruption at the Rio Games, police sources said.
Francis Paul, secretary-general of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK), was arrested on Friday, one of the police sources said on condition of anonymity.
His deputy James Chicha and Stephen Ara Sou, who headed the Kenyan delegation to Rio, were both arrested at Nairobi airport on their return from the Brazil Games, he added.
The latest allegations come on the heals of a major drugs scandal that has dogged Kenyan athletics for years and resulted in dozens of competitors receiving lengthy bans.
The arrests of the three officials are "part of the investigation into the Rio scandal, and the poor management of the team for the entirety of the Games," the police source said.
The three, held at a police station in northeastern Nairobi, are due to be charged on Monday for mismanagement and alleged theft of official sports gear, another police source said.
The Kenyan government on 18 August ordered a probe into the charges, notably the alleged theft of sports uniforms destined for the athletes and the presence in the Kenyan delegation of officials who had no function related to the Games.
The latest allegations of mismanagement and corruption had a direct impact on the Kenyan athletes at the Rio games — who nonetheless clocked up their best Olympics yet with 13 medals (including six golds) putting them in 15th place overall, the best by an African nation by far.
When javelin thrower Julius Yego, the world champion, turned up at Nairobi airport to head to the Games, he found out he was not even booked on a flight to Rio. He ended up winning a silver medal at the Games despite his travel hardships.
Kenya's Sports Minister Hassan Wario on Thursday announced the disbanding of the Kenyan Olympic committee after the allegations surfaced.
But secretary-general Paul, who is now in custody, said that Wario did not have the legal competence to disband the NOCK, which is overseen by the International Olympic Committee, not the Kenyan government.
Wario himself has faced calls for his resignation, and on Wednesday he too was questioned in connection with the probe.
Kenya's Olympic team captain, marathon runner and elected MP Wesley Korir, welcomed the NOCK officials' arrests.
"Someone should pay the price," he said, as he called on Wario to resign.
"If you are the head of an organisation and you don't even know what is going on, my friend you are supposed to go home."
Kenya's Olympics was in trouble before the Rio Games even began.
The country's middle distance and marathon runners are world beaters, and enjoy huge international prestige and adulation in their own country. But dopings scandals have tarnished their achievements.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) only cleared the country's athletes at the last minute to take part in the Games, after parliamentarians had botched the passage of a new law designed to convince world authorities that Kenya is serious about tackling the widespread doping that has seen at least 40 athletes banned since 2012.
Kenyan athletics coach and team manager Michael Rotich was ordered home from Rio and is facing court action amid allegations he demanded bribes to warn athletes ahead of doping tests.