Kenenisa Bekele “played big part” in EAF revoking ban

Ethiopia’s double Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele (pictured) played a major part earlier this week in persuading his national federation, the Ethiopian Athletics Federation (EAF), to revoke the ban on him and 34 other athletes which had put their participation at the London 2012 Games in jeopardy, it emerged today.

Bekele’s manager Jos Hermens told insidethegames: “There was a big meeting at the federation headquarters in Addis Ababa early in the week involving all the athletes and coaches, and Kenenisa played a major part in the discussions.

“He was the athlete who had most to say on the different issues.

“I’m very, very happy that the federation have changed their minds about the ban.

“It’s a good decision.

“We are all on the same side here – we all want Ethiopia to do well in London 2012, so we have to work together.

“It was a shock when the federation announced their ban, but I think a shock effect was what they wanted because they couldn’t get through to the athletes.”

Hermens added that Bekele, who is spending $1 million (£641,700/€772,600) of his own money to construct a track 10 kilometre outside Addis which has a softer surface more suited to distance runners, had had to spend a day in Djibouti following his meeting, as the containers holding the synthetic track material were being delayed by a problem with customs.

Bekele and many other of the banned athletes such as Tirunesh Dibaba (pictured), who matched his achievements in winning the 5,000 and 10,000 metres double at the Beijing 2008 Games, have been unable to do serious training on the Mondo track in Addis Ababa, which they feel is too hard, and instead have been doing endurance work running on open ground.

Bekele’s track is due to be completed in March, as is another softer track in Asella, the birthplace of his predecessor as Olympic 10,000m champion, Haile Gebrselassie, who is in training for the Tokyo Marathon on February 26.



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