Several national team runners have deserted the Police Athletics Camp in Kapchorwa in protest of the force’s reluctance to punish a coach accused of sexual harassment.
“We cannot continue working with such a coach. We can’t stay in the camp because the situation is not about to change if he is still in charge,” one female athlete said but asked not to be named.
The athlete claimed the coach’s bad habits are known to the authorities but nothing has been done to reprimand him.
“All of us who came to Kampala for the cross-country are now being harassed for speaking to the press,” she said.
The coach was appointed to handle the national team alongside two other male colleagues in preparation for the March 16 Africa Cross-country Championships.
During the training camp in Bukwo, female junior athletes confided in team captain Moses Kipsiro, who confronted the coach over his behavior. But Kipsiro has now been dropped from the national team for speaking to the media about the matter.
In a move that might hurt the country’s preparations for the Commonwealth Games and other international competitions, male runners have also withdrawn from the Police camp, opting to train from home. The downside of training from home is that there won’t be supervision of their workouts and facilitation might be inadequate.
“We can’t sit and watch as our sisters are being subjected to such treatment. We shall look for other clubs if things don’t change,” a male athlete said on grounds of anonymity.
Prior to the scandal, which has been dismissed by Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF) as political, Police had some of the country’s best runners. They included 2010 World Junior Championships bronze medallist Jacob Araptany and World Cross-country Championships representative Abdallah Mande.
The duo, alongside 10,000m national champion Peter Kibet, Alex Cherop and several others are now facilitating themselves and training on their own.
“They fear coming here because they have been giving the public wrong information,” Kapchorwa DPC Patrick Odokonyero told Daily Monitor when asked about the desertions on Monday.
“There is a girl who we called to give us information but she ran away. Good thing, some runners are coming up to give us information,” he added.