Ezekiel Kemboi, world steeplechase champion, accused of stabbing woman in Kenya

Ezekiel Kemboi celebrates his win at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea, in September 2011.


Mark Dadswell

Champion Kenyan runner Ezekiel Kemboi has been charged with assault, a month before he is due to compete at the 2012 London Olympics.

A Kenyan woman, Anne Njeri, has accused the steeplechase gold medallist of stabbing her in the western town of Eldoret last night, the East African Standard reported.

Njeri, 26, told the paper that Kemboi drove her home after an evening out, and became aggressive when she refused his sexual advances. She claims he took out a knife and stabbed her in the chest.

The athlete denies the allegations. He says Njeri attempted to rob him in league with at least two men, one of whom stabbed her while aiming for Kemboi.

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At a packed court hearing earlier today, a magistrate charged Kemboi – who is himself a police officer – with assault and released him on bail of $595, according to the BBC

The next hearing has been set for September – after the close of the Olympic Games.

It's not yet clear whether the runner will be allowed to travel to London: while his lawyer, Michael Chemwok, told Reuters that Kemboi was "innocent until proven guilty" and still planned to compete, the official in charge of Kenya's London delegation told local Capital FM News that the national Olympic committee was undecided.

"Currently we are discussing the matter with relevant officials following this incident that has a potential of shedding our team in bad light," said the manager of Team Kenya for London, James Chacha.

Kemboi won gold for the 3,000m steeplechase at the 2004 Athens Olympics, as well as the World Championships titles in 2009 and 2011. Last year, Reuters said, he ran the seventh fastest steeplechase in history at the World Athletics Gala in Monaco, with a time of 7 minutes 55.76 seconds.

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