Former Kenya sports minister Hassan Wario and former Kenyan Olympic committee official Stephen Soi were convicted of corruption and abuse of office on Wednesday. The court concluded Wario and Soi misused funds set aside for Kenya's 2016 Rio Olympics preparations.
Wario paid a $32,000 fine on Thursday to be released from police custody after he was sentenced to six years in prison earlier that day. Soi was sentenced to 12 years, but could pay a $950,000 fine to be released like Wario. Anti-corruption judge Elizabeth Juma, who issued the sentences, ruled Wario sent three people unaffiliated with Athletics Kenya to the Olympics and gave them allowances with the team budget.
Kenya came into the 2016 Games with a $5.7 million budget while Nike gave the track and field federation it sponsors an additional $700,000. Wario -- who also served as Kenya's ambassador to Austria before his arrest -- and Soi were found to have stolen from those funds while former Kenyan Olympic committee secretary general Francis Paul and three other sports ministry officials were acquitted.
Over $800,000 of the Olympic budget illegally went Wario's way.
Wednesday's pair of convictions continues a string of Athletics Kenya corruption scandals and overall frustration from its athletes. In 2018 the International Amateur Athletic Federation slapped former Athletics Kenya vice president David Okeyo with a lifetime ban after he embezzled hundreds of thousands in Nike sponsorship money, and in 2016 former Athletics Kenya chief executive Issac Mwangi faced a bribery investigation.
Kenyan athletes voiced their concerns over their governing body's corruption by storming its headquarters in 2015. But despite the athletes' frustration, they've largely impressed in Olympic action and particularly the long-distance running events. Kenya ranked 15th and 19th, respectively, in the 2016 Rio Games' and 2020 Tokyo Games' medal counts. The country has won double-digit medals in four consecutive Olympics.