Kameta feels absence from Olympics will affect team's performance

By francis marangu
Jul 14, 2016
  • John Ohaga, the Sports Tribunal chairman to deliver ruling on boxing case against NOCK.

In a bid to have his exclusion reversed, Boxing Association of Kenya (BAK) president John Kameta has said his absence in the Rio-bound team will affect their performance negatively.

He was struck out of the boxing team to this year's Olympic games and BAK requested to nominate a new team manager.

Kameta challenged the decision by National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) at the Sports Disputes Tribunal and was heard on Thursday through his lawyer Gerry Gitonga.

NOCK alleged Kameta failed to submit a mandatory report for the boxing team after the 2012 Olympic Games where he was the team manager.

In his submission, Gitonga made reference to the recent tribulations of boxer Benson Gicharu to prove Kameta’s value in the team. He said Kameta goes out of his way to make sure boxers excel and omitting him from the team will be demoralizing.

But, tribunal chairman John Ohaga sought to know why BAK had problems getting a replacement for Kameta.

“If the report is the sole thing that NOCK has requested for and it's not availed, we have to question the administrative capability (of Kameta). There is no criteria for selecting team managers like you would say in athletics, a sprinter must have hit some qualifying time.”

In response, Gitonga said Kameta has always been professional in handling the team. “Mr. Kameta fights for his boxers and makes sure they have everything they need to perform. Were it not for him, Gicharu would not have qualified for the olympics,” he stated.

“Kameta made sure Gicharu went to Venezuela and qualified even after NOCK had lost hope in him. It has been even reported in the media that NOCK said it would take a miracle for Gicharu to qualify but Kameta stood by him.”

He added; “Kameta has handled this team professionally and without him it will adversely affect them. We ask this tribunal to accord Mr. Kameta the opportunity he has not been accorded by NOCK.”

Absence will have no effect

Lawyer Edward Rombo who represented NOCK said Kameta’s absence will have no glaring effect to the boxing team’s showing in Rio. He insisted that NOCK was right in striking his name out of the boxing team for failing in his obligations.

“As far as NOCK is concerned, it will not affect the team. Actually, his participation will be detrimental to the sport because if he behaves the same way again and fails to submit the report, how will NOCK know about their problems?,” he wondered.

“This appeal is opposed completely.” Rombo quoted the Olympics Charter in supporting his argument stating that it gives NOCK all powers to determine teams to enter into the Olympic Games.

“Even though federations submit list of participants, NOCK has the sole authority of determining those to enter into the games.”

The main talking point at the hearing was the report that NOCK says Kameta failed to submit after the 2012 games in London.

Gitonga admitted that the report was not submitted but blamed NOCK since there was a communication breakdown between both parties.

He cited two letters authored by Kameta on November 14, 2014 and August 10, 2015 addressed to NOCK apologizing for not submitting the report.

In the letters, Gitonga said Kameta was seeking for, among other things directions on the process for submitting the report and structure required. There was no response from NOCK on both instances.

“I ask the tribunal to be considerate that Mr. Kameta was a first-time team manager in 2012,” he submitted.

“When he wrote these letters, my client was trying to solicit some feedback from NOCK but he did not get any response. He did not refuse to submit the report.”

Gitonga said his client was never given an opportunity to be heard by NOCK prior to making the decision. He made reference to a meeting by the NOCK executive committee held on February 8, 2013 that made the decision to bar Kameta from the 2016 games.

As per the minutes from the meeting, it was agreed that team managers from the boxing and swimming federations would never be considered in future games for failing to send their reports.

“It's news to us because this is the first time we are seeing these minutes and their ramifications are big. The minutes do not only talk about these games but other future assistance,” he noted terming the decision dictatorial.

“Our main complaint about the decisions being made by NOCK affecting boxing is that the concerned parties are never notified. Even as he was writing the letters in 2014 and 2015, a pre-determination was already made in 2013 yet he was not informed.”

Rombo put to task

Rombo was put to task on why NOCK did not communicate the decision of the meeting to BAK or Kameta. He said there was no need to prove they did so because that was not part of the dispute at hand.

NOCK maintained that Kameta knew he was to submit a report because there are regular meetings held between team managers and the Olympic body prior to the games where the matter is discussed.

Rombo said the apology letter proves that Kameta knew everything about submitting the report. “I urge this tribunal to find that this appeal has no merit. This is a person who failed in his duties and is now taking the country for a ride.”

Gitonga was hard-pressed to satisfy the tribunal that the letter by NOCK dated July 7 constituted a disciplinary action against BAK or Kameta.

He said overturning NOCK’s decision will be for the good of boxing as a sport. “We are asking this tribunal to order that BAK nominations be allowed to stand and Kameta allowed as the team manager.”

Ruling on the matter will be delivered on July 19.