KAMPALA (AFP) - A scandal in Uganda over alleged sex abuse of female runners deepened on Thursday, after it emerged that the athlete who exposed the issue has been dropped from the national half-marathon team.
Moses Kipsiro, a Commonwealth double gold medallist and one of Uganda's top distance runners, had been expected to race at the World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen on Saturday.
But the Daily Monitor newspaper said he has been dropped from the squad seemingly as punishment for speaking out, after female runners complained of being subjected to sex abuse and harassment by a national coach.
"I have been given a funny excuse," Kipsiro was quoted as saying. "If I am being punished for trying to save careers and lives of young athletes, it's unfair. But God is my judge."
"I love representing my country and will do so whenever called upon," the athlete told the paper.
The Daily Monitor said the Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF), who have been accused of failing to take action over the alleged sex attacker, maintained they had dropped Kipsiro because he was ill and that he would be selected to run for Uganda in the future.
The alleged abuse took place while Ugandan athletes - who have emerged as tough competition for their east African rivals Kenya and Ethiopia, the global distance-running giants - were at a training camp to prepare for this month's Africa Cross-country Championships.
Ugandan runners had reportedly been afraid of speaking out publicly for fear of being reprimanded by the UAF, although Kipsiro eventually intervened - prompting local government officials to demand a police investigation.
According to Kipsiro, the coach - who has not been named - had allegedly told some of the women runners that they had to have sex in order to perform better.
"His theory was that if a woman's private parts are wide, their legs move easily. I was so shocked," Kipsiro was quoted as saying earlier this month. "I even feel ashamed to talk about some of the things that happened in that camp."