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Protect our athletes | Nation



Reports of a cybercrime syndicate said to be behind the hacking of social media accounts of athletics managers to defraud unsuspecting Kenyans, particularly athletes, are worrying.

The syndicate, operating at the athletics town of Iten in Elgeyo Marakwet County and in Eldoret in neighbouring Uasin Gishu, is said to target the runners with the promise of US travel offers.

After the athletes are hooked, the crooks then defraud them of their hard-earned money after promising to facilitate their training abroad—which often comes with the allure of quick money with calls to various races.

The reports of the syndicate come on the heels of a worrying wave of murder of athletes, which calls for urgent measures to be taken to safeguard not only their lives but also wealth and property.

Kenyan-born Bahraini athlete Damaris Muthee Mutua was murdered in Iten in April, just seven months after the lifeless body of 2015 World Cross Country champion Agnes Tirop was found at her home in the same town with stab wounds on her neck.

This points to a deep-seated problem that should quickly be snuffed out.

Athletes, who are a source of our national pride and joy, should not be at the mercy of criminals out to take their lives or steal the money they honestly worked and sweated for so hard. Police and investigative and prosecutorial agencies should move quickly to bring to book those behind this syndicate as well as close the murder cases with those found guilty of the heinous crimes handed stiff punishment.

The athletics body, Athletics Kenya (AK), on the other hand, should improve its services to promising runners—including having them attached to mentors, financial advisers and professional counsellors—to give them all-round protection.

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