Asbel Kiprop, the Kenyan Olympic champion in the 1500-meters and two-time world champion ('11, '13), was accused over the weekend of a wide range of crimes, including impregnating a 16-year-old, abusing and threatening said child-bride, and then kidnapping the child. Who says the NFL has the market cornered on domestic violence?
Kiprop, 25, is at the top of the metric mile world. He attempted the world record in 2014, and he currently reigns as fifth-fastest ever at the distance. But according to Sammary Cherotich, the 2007 IAAF World Youth Athletics Championship gold medalist in the 1500m, the two have a five-year-old son and Kiprop has a long history of abuse.
"He has [sic] ill-tempered, having threatened to kill me on several occasions, most recently on October 17 when he pointed a pistol at me," Cherotich said in a replying affidavit to Kiprop's court case seeking sole custody of the boy, according to the Nairobi Standard.
The pair met in mid-2008, when Cherotich was 16 and Kiprop was 18 or 19, and they quickly had their son. Shortly after the honeymoon, however, Kiprop began the abuse. In her affidavit, Cherotich claims that after years of threats, Kiprop first physically assaulted her in 2012, injuring her at the site of an old operation. She fled the house, leaving the child, to take refuge with her sister. This pattern of abuse-and-flee continued until he brandished a pistol at her on October 17, threatening to kill her in front of her son and the domestic servants.
Allegations of Kenyan male athletes losing their goddam minds after international success are hardly isolated incidents. The average Kenyan farmer makes $736 a year, while at the same time successful marathoners can make millions, creating a large economic disparity between the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor. It's a perfect environment to grow mind-gnawing suspicion and distrust, which often results in domestic violence.
Ezekiel Kemboi, the dancing steeplechaser who won the 2012 Olympic gold, won his medal while out on bail for allegedly stabbing a woman who demurred from having sex with him. (The charges were dropped in October 2012 after the woman suddenly recanted, which probably had nothing to do with Kemboi giving his gold medal to the president.) This past May, Kemboi again popped into the news after a fight in Nairobi hotel with a different woman over child support of a two-year-old.
And then there's Sammy Wanjiru, the first Kenyan Olympic gold medalist in the marathon. Wanjiru's death in 2011 at age 24 still remains a mystery, but the athlete's final days are filled with guns, bigamy, domestic violence, substance abuse, and a creeping paranoia.
On Sunday, Kiprop took to Facebook to deny the allegations of the pistol (but not the abuse or kidnapping), claiming Cherotich was angry over Kiprop failing to ask his agent to set up a race for her. He also accused her of routinely abandoning their child, stepping in after fearing for the child's welfare.
"I was Shocked to read all the lies on the Nairobian newspaper concerning me," Kiprop wrote, channeling his best War Machine. "The last time i touched a firearm was in November 2010 at a training in Isiolo. Let God reveal the truth and protect it."
The Kenyan judicial system heavily favors its international athletes, so it seems unlikely that Cherotich will receive justice. Instead, she joins the numerous other women who have been victimized by the country's most visible representatives. It's the same old shit, just different names.
[Photo: AP Images]