The strange life and troubling death of Kenyan marathoner Sammy Wanjiru received an exhaustive review in the hands of Sports Illustrated this month, in a long account, reported and written by David Epstein, of the champion marathon runner’s extraordinary spending sprees and womanizing. Even by the standards of genorosity and unsatiability displayed by the proverbial African “big man,” Wanjiru’s behavior reached standards of excess that raise questions about Wanjiru’s sanity. While Epstein steps back from drawing any conclusions about Kenyan culture from Wanjiru’s baroque self-destructiveness, he does shine a light on the dismal policing practices in the East African country. If someone as prominent as Wanjiru — who died a year ago in what is widely believed to be the result of either a terminal fall from a balcony or a deliberate murder — cannot receive a decent police investigation, imagine the treatment handed out to ordinary families who loses a loved one in suspicious circumstances. Police corrupted the crime scene, extinguished any chance of a professional autopsy and even raised doubts that they might have contributed to Wanjiru’s death. While Kenya lost a world-class champion in the process, the country’s police also have garnered another black mark for awful performance.
Marathon races and the police culture of Kenya
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