Athletics Kenya (AK) is holding a four-day seminar to enlighten sportsmen and women on how to invest their race earnings.
Apart from investment, the athletes will also be given lessons on financial and risk management and be encouraged to take up insurance policies.
“The life of athletes on the track is very short and there is need to fully equip them with the necessary skills and techniques on how to manage their finances, invest their earnings and take up insurance policies,” said Isaiah Kiplagat, the association’s chairman, in Eldoret town.
From the major continental competitions, top athletes share approximately Sh4 billion annually in prize money, but the cash often disappears due to lack of proper management.
“Athletes contribute immensely in the economy of the country, but lack of proper financial management has led to most of them squandering the funds. Such seminars aim to arrest this wastage,” he said.
More than 300 former and current athletes, among them 800m World Record holder David Rudisha, Olympic 3,000m steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi, 800m champion Pamela Jelimo and double 5,000m and 10,000m World Champion Vivian Cheruiyot are attending the seminar.
The proposal by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to tax the sports legends’ earnings will also be discussed.
Sports minister Ababu Namwamba, who presided over the opening of the seminar, said he had written to the Ministry of Finance and KRA asking them not to implement the move.
“The athletes are always taxed at the point of victory and therefore, further taxation would be exposing them to double jeopardy. I have written to the Ministry of Finance and KRA not to implement the move as consultations are still taking place,” said Mr Namwamba. KRA head of communications Kennedy Onyonyi said athletes would not be exempted from paying tax unless Parliament amends the Bill on taxation. The athletes would also be enlightened on doping, legal matters, training techniques and lifestyle- related challenges.
Training athletes on handling fame and instant wealth was identified as a key gap, following the death of marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru under mysterious circumstances two years ago.
The gap came to the fore again in the run up to the 2012 London Olympics when 3,000m steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi was charged with assaulting a female companion after a night out. The woman dropped the charges two weeks ago.