Kenya Says It Is Switching To Trials-Only Selection Process For Worlds Team

At the 2016 Kenyan Olympic Trials, only the country's top two athletes in each event were guaranteed a spot on the national team, with the third choice being left up to Athletics Kenya. Earlier this month, Athletics Kenya president Jackson Tuwei announced a change to the nation's qualification procedures for the 2017 IAAF World Championships: It is switching to a strict U.S.-style trials that guarantees spots to the top three finishers.

Every country gets to choose its own three non-wild-card athletes who meet the IAAF standard to send to the World Championships. For the United States, that has always meant sending the top three trials finishers with the standard, no matter what happens. For Kenya, it was a combination of trials results and bureaucratic discretion; for example, worlds silver medalist Geoffrey Kamworor dropped out of the Kenyan 10K trials last year and was still offered a spot on the team over the third-place finisher.

Heading into this weekend's Kenyan trials in Nairobi, athletes like Kamworor will have no room for error, as AK has declared that only the top three non-wild-card athletes will be selected for the team.

Athletes with wild cards are those who either won the Diamond League in 2016 or won a world championship in 2015. Interestingly, in the 800m, Kenya has both--2015 world champion David Rudisha and 2016 Diamond League champion Ferguson Rotich. The IAAF rules clearly state that nations are capped at four athletes per event, though Tuwei was under the impression that Kenya could send five men to worlds in the 800m.

In addition, one new requirement is that Kenyan athletes must be drug tested at least five times--three out of competition and two in competition--in order to be eligible for the Kenyan team, a rule that may have been designed to help qualm fears of antidoping noncompliance.

Of particular interest to U.S. fans, NCAA 800-meter champion Emmanuel Korir is entered in the 400m and 800m for the Kenyan trials, which take place on Friday and Saturday.

Watch Athletics Kenya president Jackson Tuwei announce the requirements here:

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