Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) says it will investigate how four athletes travelled to Tanzania for an international tournament without its clearance.
The four atheletes—Francis Khanje, Happy Mcherenje, Mphatso Nadolo and Doris Fisha—travelled to Tanzania last week to compete at the Dodoma Marathon held on Sunday and ended up being stranded after their passports were confiscated at a hotel they were booked for failing to pay accommodation bills.
In an interview yesterday, Sports Council acting executive secretary Henry Mereka said: “This is a disciplinary issue and AAM must explain how the athletes travelled to Tanzania for a tournament without our knowledge and approval.
“When we ask associations to seek clearance it’s because we want to avoid such things.”
Mereka described the incident as “embarrassing because the association did not prepare for the event”.
He said: “This shows that both AAM and the athletes did not do their homework on the competition’s requirements. These are professional athletes and they should have known what is expected of them.”
However, Athletics Association of Malawi (AAM) general secretary Frank Chitembeya was elusive when asked whether they sought the council’s approval.
He said: “We will respond accordingly when we get communication from them [MNCS].”
On why the athletes left without funding for the trip, Chitembeya blamed the Tanzania Athletics Federation for letting them down.
He said: “When we got the invitation letter, I talked to Tanzania athletics officials who told us that our athletes would be taken care of.
“But surprisingly, I got information on Sunday evening that our athletes were stranded. I then followed it up with the Malawi High Commission in Tanzania, who advised us to send money [K180 000].”
In an interview yesterday, one of the athletes Nadolo said they got an invitation to take part in the marathon through AAM.
He said: “I travelled to Tanzania for the marathon using my personal funds after getting an assurance from AAM that we would be refunded the money to be spent on transport, food and accommodation by the organisers.”
The long-distance athlete said they left Malawi on Thursday and arrived in Tanzania on Friday evening and the organisers took them to a hotel where they were booked.
“We were surprised to be told [by hotel management] that we should not order food until they were advised by the marathon organisers.
“The worst experience came on Sunday after the race when the hotel management confiscated our passports because we had not paid for accommodation. This forced an official from Tanzania Athletics Federation to call our embassy who gave us K180 000.”