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Drama on the track at international race

By | March 19th 2009

By Vincent Bartoo

In 1993, at the World Athletics Championships in Germany, Mr Moses Tanui almost exchanged blows with Ethiopian athlete Mr Haile Gebresselasie.

Tanui was among the hot favourites of the event and tipped to win the 10,000m, a race he had dominated. He had won gold at the 1991 World Athletics Championships in Tokyo, Japan and had no doubt he was going to achieve the same feat in Germany.

"Haile Gebreselassie was just coming up and although he was my main challenger, I did not expect any stiff competition from him," he recalls.

The race went well until the last five laps, when Gebreselassie collided with Tanui.

"It was intentional. He kept pushing me as if wanting to trip me. At first I thought it was accidental," says the former champion. He says he even slowed down and beckoned for Gebreselassie to overtake him, but he ignored the gesture.

"On the last lap, he suddenly stepped on my left shoe, disabling my movement," says Tanui. At this point, Tanui says he decided to kick off the shoe, which had partially come off.

This, however, gave Gebreselassie an advantage as he overtook Tanui at 50m to the finish line. He went on to win the race, with Tanui coming second.

"I would have won the race. The shoe slip was deliberate. It was meant to slow me down because he did it repeatedly," he claims. Tanui said the video replays of the race are evidence of this.

"It was clearly foul play and I expected my country to help me lodge a complaint, but the Kenya Amateur Athletics Association (now Athletics Kenya) failed to come to my aid."

Gebreselassie has since apologised for the mishap and insists it was accidental. But Tanui still believes it was deliberate.

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