Mushir Salem Jawher 88.
(photo credit: )
Kenyan-born runner Mushir Salem Jawher, who was stripped of his Bahraini citizenship after participating in the Tiberias Marathon last Thursday, might be prevented from competing in athletic competitions for two years because he illegally used his Kenyan passport to enter Israel, his coach Dorothee Paulmann told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
Under Kenyan law, Jawher should have surrendered his Kenyan passport three years ago when he received Bahraini citizenship, she said.
"It's very sad, and for him it is even more upsetting, because even if the Kenyan authorities take him back, he won't be able to participate in contests for the next two years, according to Kenyan law, so he will lose two years of training and competing," Paulmann told the Post by telephone from Kenya. "Now that Mushir is back in Kenya, there is a great confusion around this incident, but we hope a solution will arise soon."
Paulmann said she hoped the International Athletics Association in Monaco would help them end the "outrageous" situation caused by Bahrain's actions.
"You cannot possibly take someone's citizenship just because he participated in a marathon without even knowing the [ramifications] of his participation," she said. "I called the Bahrain Athletics Association and asked them for answers, but they told me Mushir did not pass [on] his schedule for 2007 as he was requested, and this is why his citizenship was taken away from him.
"It sounds to me like a poor excuse because I am his agent and coach and they could have asked me about his schedule. Besides, when you go on a full marathon you don't decide on it two days before."
Jawher said he had entered Israel without realizing that he was breaking Kenyan and Bahraini law.
"I am in shock and I cannot comment on anything because I know nothing," he told The Nation newspaper in Nairobi on Monday. "I was never told it was illegal to enter Israel. I really don't know what to do."
The Bahrain Athletics Association said in a statement that Jawher, who had lived in Bahrain for the last three years, had violated the laws of the Gulf country and "broken the rules when he went to Israel without telling anyone."
The statement also said a committee of sport and government authorities decided to strike Jawher's name off the sport union's records and revoke his Bahraini nationality.
The Israel Athletics Association intended to ask the International Athletics Association to consider the issue, Jack Cohen, the association's general-secretary, told the Post. "It wasn't supposed to end this way. Everybody should remember we are talking sport, not politics, and the Israel Athletics Association certainly wasn't looking for this kind of attention."
The Foreign Ministry declined to comment.
The Kenyan Embassy said it had not known about Jawher's visit to Israel and learned about it from the media.
Jawher's wife and two-year-old daughter live in Kenya. Jawher, 29, previously known as Leonard Mucheru, was considered to be Bahrain's best chance for winning a gold medal in the Asian Games held in Doha, Qatar, last month.
Until 2003, Jawher's future was not so promising but then a Kenyan agent introduced him to scouts from Bahrain who were interested in athletes willing to renounce their citizenship for promises of financial rewards if they brought glory to their new country.
Jawher was planning to participate in the World Athletics Championships in Osaka, Japan, next August.
After he won the Tiberias Marathon, he said he was "very proud" to have run in Israel. But shortly after he left the country, he was informed that Bahrain had revoked his citizenship for competing in an athletics event in Israel, which has no ties with the oil-rich state.