Nike under investigation in Kenya for corruption

The world’s leading sportswear corporation, Nike, is under investigation in Kenya after three athletics federation officials were accused of obtaining bribes from the company.

Nike enjoyed an over twenty year contract with the Kenyan athletics federation but after Chinese company Li-Ning made a competitive offer Nike panicked, fearing it would lose it. It renegotiated the agreement and according to this new deal the US-based company would pay honorariums and one-time 500,000 dollars ‘commitment bonuses’, on top of over one million dollars, every year. “This was a bribe,” a former employee of Kenya’s athletics federation says.


Kenyan marathon runners training
Marathon runners training in Nairobi, Kenya © Micheal Steele/Getty Images

Nike under investigation in Kenya: officials took its bribes

This money was meant for the country’s famed runners – many of whom are running for glory and from abject poverty according to the British Association for Fair Trade Shops. Kenyan officials secured the 500,000 dollars commitment bonus from Nike in order to reimburse the 200,000 dollars Li-Ning paid to win the contract, according to documents obtained by The New York Times. “You and I go back a long way. Can we talk about the situation?” a Nike executive wrote to a Kenyan official after hearing the news that the athletics federation wanted to suspend their contract.


Kenyan authorities are now looking into the disappearance of the sum. For its part Nike has denied any wrongdoing, saying, “we are cooperating with the local authorities in their investigation” – a claim rejected by Kenyan investigators.


marathon beijing world championship
The women’s marathon at the 2015 World Athletics Championships © Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Civil rights activist urges US to investigate Nike

Kenya’s leading campaigner against corruption, John Githongo, says the American government should take interest and investigate the corporation headquartered in Beaverton, in the US state of Oregon. “Whenever I see the words ‘commitment fees,’ ‘commitment bonuses,’ ‘access fees,’ ‘access bonuses,’ that for me raises a red flag,” says Githongo. “It is language used to dress up bribes,” he continued.


This is among the latest scandals to hit sports in Africa, following the recent revelation that three Ethiopian runners were suspended on suspicion of doping.

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