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Tuesday, August 31, 1999 Published at 18:28 GMT 19:28 UK

Athlete disqualified for asking rival to lose

Barmasai: Admitted asking countryman to slow down so he could win

Steeplechaser Bernard Barmasai has been disqualified from the Golden League million dollar jackpot after admitting he asked a fellow-Kenyan to let him win.

The sport's governing body ruled Barmasai was guilty of bringing athletics into disrepute for asking Christopher Koskei to slow down in the 3,000-metre steeplechase at a meeting in Zurich in August.

"I said, `Leave it for me,' and that's why he slowed down," Barmasai told a BBC interviewer at the time.

Giorgio Reineri, spokesman for the sport's ruling body, the International Amateur Athletic Federation, said the IAAF council had decided Barmasai was ineligible for the jackpot but that the result of the race would stand because there was no evidence of a conspiracy.

No ban

He said the Kenyan world record holder would still be allowed to compete in the remaining Golden League meetings in Brussels and Berlin.

But if he wins them both and completes the Golden League challenge of winning every selected event in the season, he will not be eligible to claim the expected $1m prize.

In a radio interview after the Zurich meeting Barmasai admitted he had asked Koskei to slow down in the finishing straight to allow him to remain in contention for the jackpot, shared between athletes who win each of their events in the elite Golden League series.

Barmasai had been one of four athletes still in contention for the jackpot.

Deaf ears

Koskei has denied any collusion with Barmasai and said he would not have been able to hear any instructions from Barmasai because of the noise of the crowd.

He will not be punished.

Koskei won the steeplechase gold medal at the World Championships last week while Barmasai finished fifth.

"The decision was taken under the code of conduct which says that an athlete putting his sport in disrepute can be sanctioned," Reineri said.

Disrepute charge

"It's the decision of the council that there was evidence from the interview he had put the sport in disrepute.

"The interview was very strange but the words are clear. He gave the idea to the public that some races can be fixed."

With sprinter Marion Jones injured, only 800-metre record-holder Wilson Kipketer of Denmark, and distance runner Gabriela Szabo of Romania are still capable of winning a share of the $1m jackpot.

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