NAIROBI, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- African athletes believe Kenyan and Ethiopian dominance is to blame for the axing of steeplechase and long-distance races from the lucrative Diamond League starting in 2020.
World champion Beatrice Chepkoech says she is stunned IAAF is keen to kill talent in athletics. "It will kill careers of athletes who are specializing in the steeplechase," said Chepkoech on Thursday. "I will have to move to 1,500m and 3,000m races or move to the road races starting with 10km."
Just a year after 5,000 and 10,000m races were axed from the premier track and field competition, steeplechase, another Africa dominated race, 200 meters, triple jump and discus were dropped from the core disciplines at all 15 meetings.
The eight disciplines (4 male and 4 female) will not be contested during the 2020 Diamond League season which will have only 24 events (12 male and 12 female).
"IAAF president Seb Coe is on a mission cripple pro-African races," said Milcah Chemos, a former 3,000m steeplechase world champion. "It started with 10,000m, then 5,000m now steeplechase. I thought steeplechase is the most exciting event to watch. I never thought some people see it differently. I am disappointed," she added.
Research financed by IAAF and which was done in China, South Africa, United States and France reported that the top three most popular disciplines in the Diamond League are the 100m, long jump and high jump, followed by pole vault, the 200m and 400m.
IAAF President Sebastian Coe is the chairman of the Diamond League and has been implementing changes to the competition ever since he was elected in 2015 replacing Senegalese Lamine Diack.
Athlete manager Michel Boeting, who represents Olympic and World steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto said it was important for the IAAF and the stakeholders in the sport, to work hard to make distance running more popular and understood.
"I often see a glass half empty but today I feel steeplechase is still part of the Diamond League and 5,000m race gets a chance to alternate with 3,000m. The system to determine popularity is flawed in my opinion," said Boeting.
Olympic 1,500m bronze medalist Nick Willis from New Zealand wants Africa to have their own distance running events. "What really needs to happen is a series of distance dual meets in Nairobi and Addis Ababa between Kenya and Ethiopia," he said.
However, world 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri is making fun of IAAF's decision to first drop her favorite races, then the steeplechase of the Diamond League roster. "I will be doing a long jump from next year. That is the only event I can do," she said.
Following a detailed review of the schedule for the 90-minute broadcast window of the Diamond League both the 200m and the 3,000m steeplechase will be included in 10 meetings in the 2020 Diamond League season, including Oslo, Rome, and Doha.
"Our objective is to create a faster-paced, more exciting global league that will be the showcase for our sport. A league that broadcasters want to show and fans want to watch. However, we understand the disappointment of those athletes in the disciplines not part of the 2020 Diamond League season," said Coe.