Moses Kipsiro

Moses Kipsiro

The Ugandan had won a 5,000/10,000m double at Delhi 2010, beating Kenya?s A team, but had flopped in the shorter distance in Glasgow five nights before.

If a gap did not open up soon, Kipsiro was heading towards another consolation prize in a career that has had too many bad breaks for a man so talented, none more so than when he was an early faller in the final of the Olympic 10,000m at London 2012.

Occasional training partner Mo Farah ? they also share an agent ? was among the beneficiaries that night.

The British superstar, who had been concerned about Kipsiro?s fast finish in the build-up to the race, went on to take gold, adding the 5,000m crown to his list of accolades a week later.

Fast forward to 2014 and Levins and Bett were not as fortunate. Kipsiro passed the Canadian with 15m to go and ran down his Kenyan rival with 15cm to spare; just 0.03 seconds between them in a 28-minute race.

But now Kipsiro is the one being hunted, in danger of attracting more global fame than he could ever have wished for.

Uganda is a poor country held back by the legacy of civil wars, corruption and tribal tensions but the potential for development is massive. Ugandan athletics is no different.

For a decade, the 28-year-old Kipsiro has symbolised that state of affairs: a Ugandan able to beat the best from Kenya and beyond but not as regularly as Uganda would like.

Now he is the central player in a macabre farce that combines allegations of abduction, arson, black magic, murder and rape.

This remarkable story ? from a world far removed from the refined stops on the Diamond League circuit ? started a year ago when five young female distance runners came to Kipsiro at Uganda?s training base in Kapchorwa, in the north east of the landlocked country.

They told him that a coach called Peter Wemali, a policeman with no previous experience of coaching elite athletes, had an unusual and worrying theory on how they could ?run like Kenyans?.

His advice, they said, was that they get pregnant and have abortions, as this would ?widen their private parts so their legs move more freely?. And Wemali, they added, was very keen on doing the impregnating. The youngest of the five athletes was 15.

Kipsiro was outraged and, as the team?s captain and most established athlete, complained to the Ugandan Athletics Federation (UAF), demanding Wemali be immediately dismissed.

At this point, the story splits into rival narratives.

Kipsiro, who spoke to the BBC from hiding in the Ugandan capital of Kampala this week, said he, not Wemali, was thrown off the team following his complaint, missing the World Half Marathon Championships in Denmark a week later.

According to Kipsiro, a cursory investigation of the female runners? allegations was carried out by the UAF and local police, but ranks were closed, wagons circled, traffic waved on.

Kipsiro was invited back into the fold to defend his Commonwealth titles in August, but the feud between him and his camp, and Wemali and his camp, was only just warming up.

In December, Kipsiro claims the coach, whom he also accuses of practising witchcraft, murdered another athlete who had spoken out against him and tried to kill Kipsiro?s brother during a motorbike chase.

In February, Kipsiro says an off-duty Wemali and henchmen tried to abduct the same brother from Uganda?s Cross Country Championships but were beaten off by angry onlookers, with shots being fired to restore order. Kipsiro had only just finished competing in the men?s 12km race when the fight erupted.

Then last month, Kipsiro pulled out of the squad for the World Cross Country Championships in China at the 11th hour after receiving a series of threatening phone calls and text messages from an unknown number, a number he believes either belongs to Wemali or a close associate of Wemali?s.

BBC

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